Morgan & Wong pact for 'Hobby,' 'Den'
Scribe-helmer duo Glen Morgan and James Wong (“Final Destination”) are delving into the worlds of love and money with a pair of high-profile projects set up at Showtime and NBC via Neal Moritz and Marty Adelstein’s Original.
Duo will offer a modern take on the world of high-end prostitution for Showtime with an hour dubbed “The Hobby,” one of the first major projects put into development by Bob Greenblatt since the exec took over as chief programmer for the feevee cabler.
NBC, meanwhile, has attached a mid-six-figure penalty to its premium script commitment for the “24”-like heist drama “Den of Thieves,” which originated with a New Line-Benderspink feature script from Christian Gudegast and Paul Scheuring.
Both hours are being produced by 20th Century TV-based Original, with Benderspink and New Line on board as producers on the Peacock project. Morgan or Wong — whose TV credits include “The X-Files” and “Millennium” — will write and exec produce both hours and will likely direct one or both if greenlit.
In addition to Mortiz and Adelstein, Original TV prexy Dawn Parouse will also serve as exec producer of both shows.
“We have a long history with Glen and Jim, dating back to their work on ‘The X-Files,’ ” 20th Century Fox TV topper Gary Newman said. “They’re great writers, producers and showrunners, and they’ve come up with two really cool projects. We jumped at the opportunity to be back in business with them.”
Thick with ‘Thieves’
“Den of Thieves” — which attracted strong interest from several nets before Peacock programming chief Kevin Reilly snapped it up — started its circuitous route to the small screen when Benderspink’s Chris Bender realized the script was too expensive to make as a feature at New Line.
“Everybody loved it, but the budget was too high,” Bender said. “We didn’t want to make it as a small movie for $20 million, so I started exploring whether we could take the script and turn it into a TV show.”
Bender and partner J.C. Spink — who are currently meeting with studios about a first-look TV deal — then hooked up with their reps at Endeavor, who brought the New Line script to clients Morgan and Wong.
“It’s a really wonderful script, and we thought from that two-hour script we could make a 22-episode TV series,” Wong said.
Idea is to have one grand “Italian Job”-style heist unfold over the course of the first season, with various mini-heists taking place in every episode. Story will be told from the point of view of the criminals, with the show set in Los Angeles.
“There’s a lot of suspense and action in each show,” Wong said. “The pilot episode (lays out) what the heist is, but you don’t really know who the good guys and bad guys are. There are a lot of twists and turns, and you won’t know until the final moment (of the season) who the mastermind is.”
Old profession, new take
As for “The Hobby,” Wong said the skein will explore how the Internet has changed prostitution.
“Because of the Net, there’s a community that now exists. The whole hooker/pimp thing has changed somewhat,” he said. “It’s the world’s oldest profession, but there’s a whole new wrinkle to it.”
In the new Net world of escorts, johns refer to themselves as “hobbyists” while hookers are known as “providers.” “The Hobby” will focus on four people from each group, with one madam at the center.
“This is an intricate character drama about the complex ways in which people procure companionship and sex, especially on the Internet,” Greenblatt said. “Morgan and Wong are going to put their inimitable spin on it, and I can guarantee you it will be water-cooler television. This is exactly the kind of show that will begin to redefine this network as a place for writers with unique visions.”
“The Hobby” reps a homecoming of sorts for Morgan and Wong, since Greenblatt developed the duo’s first TV skein (“Space: Above and Beyond”) when he was at Fox.
Both “The Hobby” and “Den of Thieves” were packaged by Endeavor. Morgan and Wong, who have several feature projects in the works, are also repped by Original and Peter Nelson.