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ABC pilots ‘Astronauts’

NASA drama gets greenlight

ABC thinks feature scribe Todd Robinson (“White Squall”) has the right stuff.

Alphabet net has given a put pilot commitment to Robinson’s “Astronauts,” a one-hour drama from 20th Century Fox TV and Industry Entertainment. Story revolves around NASA’s present-day astronaut mission training program. Insiders call it a mix of “Top Gun,” “The West Wing” and “The Right Stuff.”

Robinson will pen the pilot and serve as exec producer, along with Ian Sanders and Kim Moses (“Profiler”). Industry’s Nick Wechsler and Emile Levisetti are also attached as exec producers.

It’s ABC’s first drama put commitment of the 2002-03 development season.

Robinson said “Astronauts” will focus on the conflicts between the hard-core pilots who make up NASA’s astronaut ranks and the inherently political nature of the agency.

“All the flying astronauts come out of Top Gun (or other fighter pilot training schools),” Robinson said. “You take those type of guys who are truly mavericks and put them in a organization that’s wholly political and you’ve got tension.”

Idea for “Astronauts” was generated inhouse at Industry; his managers at Industry, Margaret Riley and Susan Solomon, quickly attached their client Robinson to the project because of his extensive experience as a pilot.

“My writing career has allowed me to do some extraordinary things in aviation,” Robinson said.

“Astronauts” will also explore the conflict between NASA’s role as a scientific organization and its association with the military. Should the pilot go to series, Robinson plans to build story arcs around training for specific missions, with about 10% of episodes set in space.

In addition to writing the script for helmer Ridley Scott’s 1996 actioner “White Squall,” Robinson directed the documentaries “Amargosa” and “Wild Bill.” He won an Emmy for doc “The Legend of Billy the Kid.”

Robinson is an exec producer of IFC Films’ “Go Tigers!,” which opens in limited release Sept. 21. Last season, he was a writer on NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

Sanders and Moses most recently were exec producers of ABC’s “The Beast.” They also produced NBC’s critically acclaimed drama “I’ll Fly Away.”

Deal for “Astronauts” was brokered by Robinson’s reps at Industry and Paradigm, along with attorney Alan Wertheimer. Sanders and Moses are repped by William Morris.

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