Fox Entertainment Nabs ‘The Spellman Files’ Novels For Series Development As Part Of IP Acquisition Strategy

EXCLUSIVE: Fox Entertainment has acquired the rights to The Spellman Files book series by Lisa Lutz, which revolves about a family of PIs, to develop as a drama series.

Forging a path as an independent broadcast network with no affiliated studio, Fox has been focusing on access to talent and source material.

During the Fox TCA executive session today, Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier laid out the network’s core strategy for building a programming slate as an independent via deals “ranging from direct talent partnerships to direct IP acquisition.”

The former include talent pacts, and Fox Entertainment today announced its first direct (broadcast-only) overall deal with Criminal Minds and Teen Wolf creator Jeff Davis.

The network also has been very active buying its own IP. One of its first major moves in that area is the acquisition of the Spellman novels, with the network also bidding on other book properties.


“We have a book scout in New York in addition to our development teams,” Fox Entertainment President Michael Thorn told Deadline at TCA. “We are going to take each property and look at it – what is the best way to package this book, who are the best auspices to help bring this to life, what studio are they based at. If they are based at a studio, we can approach that studio with something the talent and the studio know we are passionate about. If the talent are free-ball, we can partner with (the Fox-owned, Gail Berman-run) SideCar and use our partnership with them.”

Having The Spellman Files as one of his first major IP buys is especially gratifying for Thorn.

“I’ve always tried to get it as a producer, I wanted it when I was at (20th Century Fox TV) but it was always tied up,” Thorn said.

When the Fox book scout recently called to say that the rights were available, “we moved in there and grabbed them.”

Starting next week, Thorn and his team will start searching for a creative team to shepherd the adaptation.

The Spellman book series launched with Lutz’s debut novel, the 1997 The Spellman Files. It consists of six novels about the Spellmans, a close-knit family of private investigators who are intensely suspicious and spend much time investigating each other. At one point, the novels were in development as a feature at Paramount.

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