Fox is close to greenlighting production on a pilot for “Reunion,” a format-busting hourlong drama that will follow the friendship of six high school friends for 20 years — all over the course of a single season.
Jon Feldman (“Tru Calling”) will write and exec produce via Steve Pearlman’s Warner Bros. TV-based Class IV Prods. Pearlman and Class IV exec veep Andrew Plotkin are also on board as exec producers.
“Reunion” will start in 1986 as the friends are graduating from their upstate New York high school. Pilot seg will follow their last summer before college, with a series of events immediately complicating their lives.
If greenlit to series, each of the next 20 episodes will sequentially follow the friends from 1987 until their 20-year reunion in 2006.
Fox and the producers are still exploring what would happen if the show makes it to a second season, but it’s very likely the skein would start over with a whole new set of friends and a different city. It’s possible some characters could cross over between seasons.
“We’re taking a page from some of the successful nonscripted shows,” Pearlman said. “Shows like ‘Survivor’ and ‘Real World’ have been very successful year after year even though they’ve designated true end points.”
Pearlman first had the idea for “Reunion” when he went to his own 20-year reunion a few years ago. “It’s an emotional experience,” he said. “You realize how little insignificant things had a critical impact on your life.”
Fox exec VP Craig Erwich said “Reunion” has a chance to be a groundbreaking skein for Fox.
“In the same way ’24’ really put a big spin on procedurals, this show does the same for an ensemble drama,” he said. “It felt like a novel but still organic way to tell a story about a group of friends, and there’s a strong vision for the characters. It felt unique, but not gimmicky.”
Plotkin said “Reunion,” the first greenlit pilot for Class IV, also promises to be an “event”-type series that can use each episode to unveil high drama if necessary.
“Because we’re dropping into very specific times in each of these years, every episode can be a sweeps episode,” he said. “We can drop into the most critical point of the year, or a very small period of time that has a big impact.”
Producers will look to cast thesps in their late 20s who have the ability to play both teens and late thirtysomething characters. In addition to aging rapidly over one season, thesps will get to explore dramatic changes in their characters — how the sweet cheerleader becomes the bitter stoner at 28, for example.
What’s more, the show won’t be chained to just one location.
“In real life people move, and one of the cool things about our format is that we could have a character move out of New York for three years and still see them in an episode (a month later),” Plotkin said.
Feldman’s credits include “The Wonder Years” and “Dawson’s Creek.”
Since May, Fox has greenlit at least three drama pilots and four comedy pilots as part of its year-round programming initiative.