Nonfiction powerhouse Stone Stanley Entertainment is looking to expand its presence in scripted programming, pacting with thesp Stephen Baldwin to develop a single-camera laffer about an unlikely male escort.
Nascent project, dubbed “Canine Companions,” revolves around a naive young Southerner named Cole who moves to Gotham to attend college and ends up working for a dog-walking service that’s actually a front for an escort agency servicing an upscale female client base. Baldwin — who will have a on-camera role in the show, though not as the lead escort — created the skein and will exec produce along with Scott Stone, David Stanley and Baldwin’s manager-production partner Alex D’Andrea.
Sharon Levy, VP of development for Stone Stanley, said Baldwin came up with the idea for “Companions” and brought the project to the production company “based on our relationship with Stephen on ‘Celebrity Mole.’ ”
Irreverent but smart
“He knew we’d get it,” Levy said. “My bent is always, the more irreverent the better. And while the nature of this material is edgy, it’s not going to be gratuitous. It’s not our intent to have (scenes with) women flat on their back naked. It’s going to be a really smart comedy.”
Indeed, like HBO’s “Sex and the City,” Levy hopes “Companions” will end up offering a sense of the family –among Cole and his fellow hustlers and bosses.
As for Baldwin, he’ll likely play a somewhat mysterious Gotham building superintendent who befriends Cole.
“It’s possible he’s a former escort now beyond his golden years, maybe a little bitter,” Levy said. “He’s actually the moral compass of the show.”
Stone Stanley is talking to writers to come on board to pen the pilot script and will then team up with its reps at William Morris, as well as D’Andrea, to begin shopping the project to both cable and broadcast nets.
While the company is best known for reality projects such as “The Mole,” “Pop Stars” and “Fame,” Stone Stanley isn’t a novice when it comes to scripted fare or yuks.
“The Man Show” is a largely scripted comedy, as is the company’s just-greenlit Spike TV skein “Joe Schmo,” in which a group of actors pretend to be participants in a reality show, unbeknownst to the one civilian involved in the proceedings. Company also produced the Fox half-hour comedy pilot “Damaged Goods” with scribe Chuck Rosen a few years ago.
“We’ve never been just reality television,” Levy said.
Baldwin’s appeared in more than two dozen pics, including “The Usual Suspects,” “Fled” and “One Tough Cop.” He also played Buffalo Bill Cody in 1989-92 ABC oater “The Young Riders.”