Thesp, producing partner, net to develop two scripts

CBS has just added a lethal weapon to its talent arsenal: Danny Glover.

Feature thesp, seen most recently in last year’s critically hailed “The Royal Tenenbaums,” has inked an innovative deal to develop and star in a series for the Eye net’s 2003-04 lineup. While Glover has appeared in several high-profile telepics — and has snagged three Emmy nominations — he has never starred in a small screen skein.

Pact calls for Glover, producing partner Arnold Rifkin and CBS to develop two scripts over the next few months, with an eye on Glover starring in one of the projects. Once the scripts are complete, both camps will determine whether to move forward with the production of a pilot for one of the scripts.

Glover will get a consulting fee for overseeing development of the scripts. If CBS greenlights a pilot, Glover’s payday will dramatically increase, with the thesp snagging coin for the pilot and several episodes — a sum that, in total, will approach seven figures. Rifkin would serve as a executive producer of the pilot via Cheyenne Enterprises, his production shingle with Bruce Willis.

As a result, the deal exposes CBS to very little upfront risk. With most talent holding deals, actors can easily snag six-figure paydays, even if they never step in front of the cameras.

Pact also gives Glover maximum flexibility, allowing him to veto any project or delay production of a project should he decide to take a film role.

“It’s not every day that you get an actor the caliber of Danny Glover to develop for primetime network television,” CBS topper Leslie Moonves said. “All of us at CBS are thrilled to be in business with him.”

Glover is best known for playing Mel Gibson’s partner in the four “Lethal Weapon” pics. His feature resume also includes a slew of serious dramas, including “Beloved,” “Grand Canyon,” “A Rage in Harlem,” “The Color Purple” and “Places in the Heart.”

CBS and Glover have a telepic bond that stretches back to the 1989 mega-mini “Lonesome Dove.” He also starred in the Eye’s successful 1993 mini “Queen.”

Glover’s other telepic credits include “Freedom Song” and “Buffalo Soldiers.”

Rifkin is the producer of the feature “The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course,” which opens Friday. He also produced Willis’ “Hart’s War” and “Bandits.”

Glover is repped by UTA and attorney Brian Wolf.

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