EXCLUSIVE: NBCUniversal International Studios, Germany’s RTL and France’s TF1 have given the green light to Gone, a 12-episode procedural drama series starring The Good Wife and Sex and the City alum Chris Noth. The series, which eyes a launch in winter 2017-2018, was created by Matt Lopez (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) based on Chelsea Cain’s novel One Kick.
Gone is the first series to come out of the innovative partnership the three companies launched last year to produce U.S.-style procedural dramas for the global market.
Gone tells the fictional story of Kit “Kick” Lannigan, survivor of a famous child abduction case and Frank Booth (Noth), the FBI agent who rescued her. Determined never to fall victim again, Kick trains in martial arts and the use of firearms. She finds her calling when Booth persuades her onto a special task force he created dedicated to solving abductions and missing persons cases. Paired with former Army Intelligence officer John Bishop, Kick brings her unique understanding of the mind of a predator.
Several scripts already have been penned for the series, which is in the process of setting up a writers room and will be written, cast and produced entirely in the U.S. RTL and TF1 will broadcast and distribute the show in German and French territories, respectively, while NBCUniversal International Distribution will license it in the U.S. and the rest of the world. The project is yet to be shopped to American networks.
Gone is executive produced by Lopez; NBCU International Studios’ EVP of Scripted Programming JoAnn Alfano, and former Dexter executive producer Sara Colleton.
Gone (then titled One Kick), was originally developed at NBC via Universal TV during the 2013-14 season with Lopez writing the adaptation of Cain’s book and executive producing the project with Colleton. It didn’t go to pilot, but after NBCU International Studios’ set up the venture with RTL and TF1 the following year, Bela Bajaria, then-head of Uni TV, sent her counterparts on the international side the script for consideration.
Michael Edelstein, President of NBCUniversal International Studios, and Alfano sparked to the premise and spent the past 18 months working with Lopez on redeveloping the project.
“This is a traditional procedural with a great female lead, and we know that procedurals resonate particularly well with women,” Edelstein said in an interview with Deadline. The producers identified the key roles around Kit as an opportunity to attract big-name actors and were able to get Noth.
“Working with Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland and TF1 has been a fantastic collaboration and we are all delighted to be moving forward so quickly on our first series together,” Edelstein said.
There are scripts for four other drama procedurals currently in development at the studio but there is no pressure to get another series greenlighted soon as the goal is to proceed with a show when it is ready, Edelstein said.
Fabrice Bailly, Head of Programs and Acquisition TF1 Group, added that it needs to be “the right concept and project,” which was the case with Gone. “The French audiences are very keen on procedural dramas,” he told Deadline, noting the success of such U.S. imports as The Mentalist, CSI and House. With the exception of medical soap Grey’s Anatomy, there are no serialized U.S. dramas that are doing well in France and yet that is the type of fare largely offered by American studios these days. Besides filling that void, the alliance among NBCU, RTL and TF1 gives European broadcasters another advantage over licensing existing U.S. series.
“Because we are getting involved at the beginning of the project as co-producers, we can have creative input, and the series can reflect what we and the audience are looking for,” Bailly said.
Joerg Graf, EVP Production & Acquisition at Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, echoed his sentiment.
“TF1 and NBCUniversal International Studios share our view that tailor-made formats will meet the increasing need of our viewers for high-quality modern crime dramas,” he said.
Noth is best known for his roles as Detective Mike Logan on the original Law and Order, as Mr. Big on HBO’s Sex and the City and as Peter Florrick, opposite Juliana Margolis on CBS’ The Good Wife. He is repped by Gersh and Sanders.Armstrong.Caserta Management.
This U.S. development season, Lopez, who is under an overall deal with Uni TV, is writing high-concept procedural drama Dreamer for NBC, which he is executive producing with John Glenn. Lopez is repped by WME and Melissa Rogal.