Ex-Gotham legal eagle to write, exec produce drama

HOLLYWOOD — Former “Law & Order” exec producer Barry Schindel has sealed a premium script deal with NBC to develop a series about L.A.-based public defenders.

Schindel set up the project through Universal Television, where he has an overall deal. Schindel will write and exec produce the drama script, which will include doses of comedy.

A former New York-based public defender, Schindel said he’s wanted to recount those experiences on TV.

Drama, passion, comedy

“I lived the show for over five years,” said Schindel. “The public defender world is half of the criminal justice story yet something we haven’t seen on TV. It has all the drama, passion and comedy that cop shows and D.A. shows don’t lend themselves to. It’s been a passion of mine since I walked into the South Bronx and said, ‘Someone needs to tell these stories.’ ”

The ensemble project will focus on the main characters’ relationships at work as well as the cases they’re assigned to handle. Schindel said he chose to set the project amid Los Angeles public defenders as they have jurisdiction over the entire county.

Cross-cultural reach

“You can have a case that emanates out of a minority neighborhood being tried in Beverly Hills,” Schindel said. “I was intrigued by the mix of culture and the ability to look at what happens when worlds collide.”

Schindel had been slated to exec produce and be showrunner of Dick Wolf’s upcoming ABC take on “Dragnet,” but he bowed out of the show in August.

The CAA-repped scribe first joined “Law & Order” as a producer in 1999, moving up to exec producer the following season. Schindel also served as an exec producer on the pilot to CBS’ frosh drama from Michael Mann, “Robbery Homicide Division.”

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