TV Surf Report: Actors Play Big Part of Buying Trend With Nets Relying Heavily On Scripts With Talent Attached


Santa Monica, CA —  (Updated 19 March 2016)

Buyers have been scooping up projects with Talent Attached. The list of Actors now producing/selling material is very long and growing longer by the day.

Usually, there is a connection between Actor and Buyer (stars in a series, etc.)  Or, that Buyer wants to be in business with that Actor, so they buy a script from them to get the ball rolling.  Eva Longoria wins 1st Prize for Most Sales this season with Mila Kunis a close second.  Both actors have been prolific saleswomen with comedy and drama scripts set up across town.

So, if you want to sell a script these days: Get Talent Attached.  Same goes for Buyers fearful of spending their development money as it’s easier to take a risk on an original idea with Talent Attached.

Here’s a list-in-progress of Who’s Got What Set Up Where:


  • Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant star and exec produce The Santa Clarita Diet at Netflix.
  • Jason Bateman produces and stars in Ozark at Netflix.
  • Scott Foley and Greg Grunberg have teamed up with Shonda Rhimes for a half-hour comedy, Toast, just picked up to Pilot at ABC.
  • Rashida Jones has set up a comedy at NBC called Good Fortune, the story of a woman who takes advice from a fortune teller.
  • Bill Hader writes/directs/stars in Barry at HBO, a half-comedy about a low-rent hitman who finds a circle of friends in the LA improve theater scene.
  • Courtney Cox stars in and produces an Untitled Comedy pilot at Fox.
  • Dwayne Johnson sold a one-hour script, Boost Unit, to Fox, a car-focused cop show.
  • Sean Penn is attached to star in American Lion at HBO, the Andrew Jackson biopic.
  • Bryan Cranston executive produces and stars in All the Way at HBO, reprising his Tony-winning role as LBJ.
  • Charlize Theron has sold Mindhunter to Netflix with David Fincher attached to direct the series adaptation of the book by John Douglas and Mark Olshanker about Douglas’ 25-year career tracking down serial killers.  Theron and writer Kay Cannon (Pitch Perfect, SNL) also sold an adaptation of Girlboss to Netflix.
  • Jason Statham is attached to star in (and exec produce) Viva La Madness, a one-hour drama sequel to Layer Cake.  Gaumont TV produces this story about an anonymous hero stranded in the Caribbean who heads back to London.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio executive produces an adaptation of Simon Toyne’s novel, The Searcher. He also has an ’80s Mafia Drama at Showtime.
  • John Legend & Chrissy Teigen have a put pilot deal at ABC for Ordinary People, an inter-racial rom-com. Legend also EPs Underground, a 10-episode escaped slave drama at WGN.
  • Eva Longoria has done very well using her breakout role on Desperate Housewives and gaining traction as a producer.  Her series, Telenovela, a comedic Soapdish-style look at a telenovela, premieres on NBC this month.  Meanwhile, she has set up numerous projects including an Inter-racial Family Comedy at ABC, a drama at ABC adapted from a Vogue article about disparate Texas twin politicos, a Texas Rangers comedy at NBC, Bonita & Mechelle, a female buddy comedy at NBC.  She EPs Devious Maids on Lifetime, as well. Her company is UnbeliEVAble Prods.
  • Patricia Heaton has sold a half-hour single-cam comedy to ABC called Kill Jill which finds a small-town girl (not unlike The Hustle) working for a glamorous West Coast bizwoman who has everything, including a plot against her life.
  • Sean Combs sold The Hustle to ABC based on his assistant’s life as a small-town girl who assists a street-wise billionaire.  Yes, it’s a comedy.
  • Mila Kunis executive produces the adaptation of Black Stiletto at ABC.  Javier Grillo-Marxuach writes and produces. Kunis also sold Champion: The Jeff Beekman Story, an underdog dad comedy, at Fox; as well as The Russians Are Coming, a fish-out-of-water comedy at NBC. She also has horror comedy Trapped at Starz.  Her company is Orchard Farm Productions.
  • Reese Witherspoon, who is very active in Film development, dips her well-pedicured toe in the water this year with writer Rob Long at ABC for a mystery about a billionaire acquitted of murder.  Also at ABC,  Please Don’t Go is a drama script ordered to Pilot and set in Dallas and centered on a divorce attorney whose life unravels.  At HBO, she and Laura Dern have a script order for Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things drama about a Portland family.
  • Felicity Huffman landed a put pilot deal at ABC for House of Moore, a darkly comedic drama about a Fashion World family.


  • Ryan Reynolds set up an Untitled Family Comedy at ABC with writer Spencer Porter.
  • Jada Pinkett-Smith has a put pilot deal at ABC for Murder Town, a drama she’s attached to star in as Delaware’s first black district attorney.
  • Lisa Kudrow and writing partner Dan Bucatinsky sold a female ensemble comedy to ABC (with Ryan Seacrest attached to exec produce).
  • Ryan Seacrest also has Squad Goals at CBS, a 20something ensemble comedy.  He also has The Down Beat, a marching band drama at CBS.
  • Kal Penn (of Harold & Kumar) parlayed his experience working in the Obama administration with a half-hour script sale, Fair And Balanced, a news channel ensemble comedy to ABC.
  • Nicki Minaj stars in and exec produces an Untitled Comedy at ABC Family based on her own family’s life in Queens by way of Trinidad.
  • Tobey Maguire has a 2-script deal at Amazon for drama Natchez Burning, an adaptation of Greg Iles’ novel about a small-town doctor in the Jim Crowe South.
  • Gil Bellows of Ally McBeal fame executive produces the pilot Patriot at Amazon, a comedic thriller starring Terry O’Quinn.
  • Sacha Baron Cohen exec produces Highston at Amazon, a half-hour comedy about a 19-year-old with a wide circle of friends.


  • Louis C.K. executive produces One Mississippi at Amazon, a comedy starring Tig Notaro about her prodigal return to her town.
  • Bryan Cranston sold the series Sneaky Pete to Amazon after originally developing it at another network. He also has a comedy at Crackle about a hotel housing super heroes with the Robot Chicken guys.
  • Seth Rogen received a series order from AMC for his adaptation of the comic Preacher which stars Dominic Cooper in this sci-fi revenge drama. He also has a pilot, Future Man, at Hulu, about a janitor who saves Humanity.
  • Tom Welling (Smallville) has sold a procedural drama, Section 13, to CBS.
  • Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii Five-O) exec produces Silicon Valley, a legal drama at CBS.
  • Halle Berry exec produces Legalese, a drama at CBS with a script order for the story of a Chicago attorney in New Orleans.
  • Henry Winker (The Fonz!) exec produces the re-boot of MacGyver at CBS.
  • Tina Fey has a pilot production commitment at CBS for Jack Burditt’s Retired Pro Athlete comedy.  She and partner Robert Carlock also have an Untitled Comedy at NBC about a mother/daughter in the same workplace.
  • Michael Weatherly sold a gritty version of Little Women to The CW, an update of the classic now set in Philly.
  • Olivia Munn exec produces a period drama about a Female Sportscaster at The CW.
  • Curtis 50 Cent Jackson exec produces and stars in half-hour comedy My Friend 50 at Fox.
  • Idris Elba exec produces the US re-make of Luther at Fox.  He also sold The Crusaders, a family ensemble drama, to Fox.
  • Peter Berg sold Trucker, an action comedy, as well as an Untitled Female Military Drama to Fox.
  • Peter Facinelli exec produces the adaptation of the comic Protocol Orphans at Fox.
  • Peter Horton exec produces Crooked, a family soap set in New Orleans, at Fox.
  • Johnny Depp exec produces Designated Survivor, a drama script, at Fox.
  • Masi Oka (Heroes: Reborn), exec produces ESL, an ensemble comedy at Fox.
  • Roselyn Sanchez sold Familia En Venta, an adaptation of the Colombian comedy, to Fox.
  • Steve Harvey exec produces the TV version of Think Like A Man at Fox.
  • Sylvester Stallone sold a TV version of both Rambo and The Expendables to Fox.
  • Misty Copeland exec produces an Untitled Dance Drama at Fox.
  • Julie Bowen exec produces Hypochondriac, a comedic adaptation of the Colombian telenovela, La Hipocondriaca.
  • Elizabeth Banks exec produces and directs the Fox pilot Front Man, a comedy about a wedding singer.
  • Ty Burell has a put pilot deal at Fox for Hosed, a firefighter ensemble comedy set in America’s second-rainiest town.
  • Key & Peele, the comedic duo. sold an Undercover Cop Comedy to Fox.
  • Ed Helms sold the dark comedy, Starters, to FX, about a theme restaurant chain.
  • Tom Hardy exec produces and stars in a BBC co-production with FX on Taboo, a period story set in 1813 London created by Hardy and his father.
  • Donald Glover exec produces Atlanta, a comedy pilot at FX about two cousins in the rap scene.


  • Laura Dern sold a Saleswoman Drama to HBO about a Tupperware-like story. She’s also partnered with Reese Witherspoon on a Cheryl Strayed script at HBO.
  • Robert DeNiro exec produces and stars in Wizard of Lies, a Bernie Madoff biopic, at HBO.
  • Matt Damon & Ben Affleck exec produce Thirst, a global water crisis telefilm at HBO. The BFFs also have drama Incorporated at SyFy.
  • Sarah Jessica Parker exec produces and stars in Divorce, a half-hour at HBO, about, well…..divorce.
  • Ed Burns sold political drama Capitol Hill to HBO.
  • Lena Dunham exec produces and directs the 1960s feminism ensemble comedy pilot, Max, at HBO.
  • Patricia Clarkson sold the romantic international political drama, Elisabeth, to HBO.
  • Anna Paquin exec produces and stars in the period miniseries Madame X at HBO.
  • Tom Hanks executive produces an Untitled Riggs/Kings Project at HBO.  He also exec produces the 6-hour miniseries Lewis & Clark at HBO.
  • Ben Stiller is among the EPs on Start Making Sense, a comedy about a best-selling author, at IFC. He also EPs an Untitled Sensitive Guys Comedy at TBS.
  • Denis Leary exec produces the beer-swilling amateur hockey league comedy Uncle Chubby’s at IFC.
  • Jeremy Renner sold Knightfall to History Channel about the Knights Templar murders.
  • Roma Downey exec produces Heavenly Creatures, a re-develop of pilot Unveiled, at NBC, a guardian angel ensemble drama.
  • Anne Heche sold a period supermodel drama set in the 70s to NBC.  Cindy Crawford is attached.
  • Amy Poehler parlays her Parks & Recreation cred at NBC with a pilot commitment for Dumb Prince, a family comedy about a reluctant Crown Prince.
  • Marlon Wayans exec produces and stars in a Divorced Dad Comedy at NBC.
  • Adam Scott sold a half-hour comedy about a Pot Shop in Denver, Buds, to NBC.
  • Johnny Knoxville exec produces and stars in Hawaiian Dick, a drama adaptation of the graphic novel about a stateside cop exiled to Hawaii.
  • Vince Vaughn exec produces “F” is for Family, an animated comedy at Netflix.


  • Jason Momoa exec produces and stars in Frontier, a period fur trader drama at Netflix.
  • George Clooney exec produces The Studio, a period movie biz drama, at Showtime.
  • Jim Carrey exec produces I’m Dying Up Here, a period drama pilot about standup comics, at Showtime.
  • Common exec produces an Untitled Southside Drama at Showtime.
  • Andrew Dice Clay exec produces and stars in a comedy series about his life in Vegas.
  • Pierce Brosnan exec produces drama The Crusaders at Spike.
  • Bradley Cooper not only exec produces Limitless at CBS but also has drama Hyperion in development at SyFy.
  • Angela Kinsey (The Office) sold call center comedy 1-800 to TBS.
  • Conan O’Brien sold The Group, an alien abductee support group comedy, to TBS.
  • Mark Wahlberg exec produces action drama pilot Shooter at USA.  Ryan Phillippe stars in the Wahlberg role from the film.

Yes, that’s a pretty long list.  Will update it as scripts get ordered to pilot, pilots get ordered to series, etc.  Thanks for reading.

Next Up:  Foreign Series About to Get Lost in TV Translation

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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