By Stuart Levine and Andrew Wallenstein
August 31, 2011
TNT is expanding its drama development slate with five more script orders, as well as ordering a pilot from Mark Burnett on the reality front.
The additions build on ambitious plans the Time Warner-owned cabler laid out at its upfront presentation in May. TNT programming chief Michael Wright said the concepts share a tone he refers to as “smart popcorn.”
“That means accessible, entertaining programming with an underlying sense of fun and intelligence,” he said.
Among the drama projects in development are:
• “H.I.K.E.,” co-written and exec produced by Forest Whitaker and Amanda Green. Storyline takes place in Phoenix — the kidnapping capital of the U.S. — where a female cop runs the Home Invasion Kidnapping Enforcement team.
• From DreamWorks TV is “The Order,” written by Joel Fields. Pilot is about an archeologist professor who ends up working in Israel engaging in various digs that explore life’s real questions of faith and meaning. Executive producers are Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank and Zafir Kochanovsky.
• Pitched as a present-day “Hart to Hart” where a quirky brother and sister solve crimes, Lionsgate TV is delivering “Perfect Set.” Pilot is written by Nina Coleman and executive produced by Alan Loeb.
• Jamie Tarses, along with Kevin Falls and writer Allan McDonald, will exec produce “Rush,” a Rashomon-style hospital drama about life in the ER. Project is from Sony Pictures TV.
• “Island Time,” from writers Joel Field and Josh Brand, where a woman chucks her corporate life when she wins a bar on a Pacific island and decides to reinvent herself among the island’s eccentric residents. Jonathan Barch and Rob Wolken are executive producers.
• Untitled Ghost Hunters Project, in which a motley crew of young friends find their calling as investigators of paranormal disturbances and join forces to fight crime against the mysterious ghosts that haunt their city. Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank and Brian Henson are executive producers of this script from DreamWorks TV.
Also, unscripted vet Burnett is exec producing “Fortune Hunters,” where contestants seek treasure.
Wright is adamant that rounding out the TNT sked is vitally important if the net is to continue as one of the cable’s top earners.
Previously announced unscripted projects include “The Great Escape” from Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and “The Amazing Race” exec producer Bertram Van Munster, and “Search and Rescue,” from reality uberproducer Thom Beers (“Ice Road Truckers”) and his Original Prods. unit.
“We’re not putting a toe in, but diving into the water,” Wright said of the ambitious reality slate.
Wright said it’s likely a pair of reality shows will be on the air in 2012 and the dramas will populate the lineup when they’re ready and up to the net’s standards.
In addition to these projects in development, TNT has already given a series order to “Dallas” and a pilot order for Western “Gateway.”
Among the other drama scripts already announced but still active in development are “CSI” creator Anthony Zuiker’s “Enigma,” about a modern-day Sherlock Holmes. Project comes from writer Ed Whitmore and CBS Television Studios.