TV Surf Report: Great Minds Think Alike As Networks Order Competing Scripts for Fashion Houses, Pot Shops, Atlanta, Billie Jean Vs. Bobby, The Madoffs, Bourbon, Fantasy Islands, Powerless Superheroes, and Women With Cancer


(Updated 02 February 2016)

Santa Monica, CA — Good ideas are often shared by more than one person at the same time, so it’s not surprising when Buyers (i.e., Networks) purchase very similar or exactly the same concepts from different Sellers (i.e., Studios).

Call it Zeitgeist, if you will.  Anyway, duplication happens more often than you’d think.

Thus far, Fashion Houses, Pot Shops, Designated Survivors, Small-town Assistants, Dance Dramas, Atlanta, Fantastical Islands, Super Heroes, Billie Jean King, The Madoffs, Bourbon and Cancer are in the Zeitgeist this season as Development Season gets in full swing:

Amazon has ordered 8 episodes of The Collection, a period drama set in Paris following the Nazi occupation about two brothers who run a Fashion House.  Tom Riley (DaVinci’s Demons) stars.  This is a co-production with BBC-1.  Meanwhile, ABC has a script in development called House of Moore from actor Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives, American Crime) about a Versace-esque family who run a notorious Fashion House.

Hollywood is crazy for Pot/Marijuana/Maryjane/Weed/Ganja!  No fewer than five different takes on the leafy plant are in the works.  Kevin Smith self-produced a pilot called Hollyweed.  Uber-producer Chuck Lorre is shopping a Pot Comedy.  Margaret Cho is attached to Highland at HBO.  Adam Scott has a script at NBC called Buds.  And, MTV has a project in development called Weed Dealers.

ABC has beaten Fox to the punch by giving a straight-to-series order for Designated Survivor, a conspiracy thriller starring Kiefer Sutherland as the member of Congress sequestered away from the main body in case something dreadful happens (which it does).  Simon Kinberg and Mark Gordon executive produce.  Meanwhile, over at Fox, the exact premise has a script order for Nikki Tuscano’s take exec produced by none other than Johnny Depp.

ABC competes with itself by buying comedy scripts from Patricia Heaton and from Sean Combs both of which center on small-town girls who move to LA to assist moguls.  Will the Alphabet go with Kill Jill (Heaton) or with The Hustle (Combs)?

Dance Dramas are very popular this year.  Fox is developing a script with prima ballerina Misty Copeland while NBC is working on a drama with Fatima Robinson who choreographed The Wiz: Live!  Meanwhile, ABC has Big Ballet, an adaptation of a UK reality show about plus-sized aspiring dancers.

Also at ABC, Richard Dreyfuss and Blythe Danner star in Bernie & Ruth, a 4-hour miniseries “inspired by”  ABC News reporter Brian Ross’ book, The Madoff Chronicles: Inside the Secret World of Bernie & Ruth.  Charles Grodin and Lewis Black co-star.

Not to be outdone, HBO is producing a 2-hour original movie, Wizard of Lies, based on the book of the same name by Diana Henriques and centering on the disgraced financier Madoff.  Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer star as the power couple.

DERBY DAY MINT JULEP      barrelwarehouse

Bourbon, my personal favorite Spirit, is definitely in the Zeitgeist this season as two networks develop very similar concepts about powerful Distillers in my home-state of Kentucky.

The Bourbon Kings at NBC hails from Endemol Shine and is a family drama based on J.R. Ward’s novel set in Kentucky and centering on a bourbon empire.  Think the Brown Family who started Brown-Forman, the distiller behind the delicious Woodford Reserve (served best on the rocks and sipped, btw!).

Meanwhile, across town at Fox, the Untitled Bourbon Drama (great title!) from New Wave Entertainment is, (wait for it!), a family soap set in a Bourbon empire.  (Note to reader:  Bourbon can only come from Kentucky much in the same way that Champagne can only come from France.)  Sound familiar?  Empire is a concept that Fox seems determined to duplicate across its schedule.

And now for something uplifting:  Comedies About Women With Cancer!

At Fox, actress Julie Bowen (Modern Family) executive produces Hypochondriac, an adaptation of the Colombian telenovela La Hipocondriaca which centers on a woman who receives a fatal diagnosis and sets out to live her life.  Hilarious!  Hey, ya never know.

Meanwhile, across town at ABC, writers Rick Weiner & Kenny Schwartz (Modern Family) have set up an Untitled Cancer Comedy about a cancer victim who goes into remission after she burns all her bridges, forcing her to move in with her estranged sister (and kids, natch).  Hilarious!  Hey, ya never know….and yet.  I think I do know.  Of course, it’s all about the execution, so let’s wait to judge.  And yet…..

brie_larson_billie_jean_king_-_split_2015    ELIZABETH BANKS

Features and TV will compete on the tennis court as both HBO and Fox Searchlight have bio pics in development based on the 1973 Battle of the Sexes tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King.

Steve Carell and Brie Larson star in the Fox Searchlight feature, Battle of the Sexes, directed by Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine).

Meanwhile, HBO has Paul Giamatti and Elizabeth Banks in a bio pic produced by Banks and Tom Hanks’ company, Playtone.


At ABC, Marvel has sold a script for Damage Control, a half-hour single-camera comedy about the Marvel Cleaning Crew who comes in after Iron Man & Co. devastate a city block in order to save it.  Ben Karlin writes/produces this put pilot commitment.

Meanwhile, at NBC, DC Comics has won a pilot commitment for Powerless, an Office-style workplace comedy set at an insurance agency of normal people who live in the DC Universe.  Ben Queen writes/produces.

ABC looks to re-boot Fantasy Island from Sony Pictures Television, employing a popular trend this season of flipping the gender from male-to-female for the lead character. (Note: this is the second attempt at a re-boot of this series.  The first starred Malcom McDowell.)

Over at CBS, they have their own fantastical island drama with Moreau, an adaptation of  H.G. Well’s book.  This new spin finds a female doctor conducting experiments in a privately funded island hospital.

Atlanta is hot this season as HBO has ordered a pilot for Brothers in Atlanta from Lorne Michaels while FX has Atlanta starring Donald Glover (Community) as one of two cousins who navigate the Rap scene.  HBO has since decided not to move forward with a series, though.


Next Up:  Film Surf Reports On Why Filmgoers Feel Entitled To Check Email During The Movie Thereby Ruining Your Experience

About Surfing Hollywood

Steve La Rue is an internationally recognized leader in Film & Television with 20+ years experience as a Development Executive championing such series as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Battlestar Galactica, and Farscape. He writes, blogs, and consults on All Things Entertainment from his home at the beach in Santa Monica, CA, where he balances his life by surfing every damn day.
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1 Response to TV Surf Report: Great Minds Think Alike As Networks Order Competing Scripts for Fashion Houses, Pot Shops, Atlanta, Billie Jean Vs. Bobby, The Madoffs, Bourbon, Fantasy Islands, Powerless Superheroes, and Women With Cancer

  1. Laura LaRue says:

    We Kentuckians will be the real judges of the Bourbon projects. Interested in future reports on casting and location. Then, I’ll be interested in fashion, dialog, events, food, scenery, etc. for authenticity. Wonder if Derby will be included? Southern to midwest focus group will be engaged!


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