Legal eagles do battle for chance to become 'Partner'
Fox and Rocket Science Laboratories (“Joe Millionaire”) are headed to court for their latest unscripted drama, a competition-based skein inspired by David E. Kelley, John Grisham — and Donald Trump.Net has given a eight-to-10-episode production commitment to the tentatively titled “The Partner,” an hourlong skein in which a group of newly minted lawyers will battle each other to win a job as a partner in a major law firm. Rocket Science partners Chris Cowan and Jean-Michel Michenaud will exec produce “The Partner,” which is based on an idea from Fox reality topper Mike Darnell. Contestants will be divided into two teams — one made up of Ivy League grads, the other consisting of players who attended less prestigious schools. Each week, teams will compete by serving as prosecutors or defenders in mock trials inspired by actual cases. A jury of real people — selected by the lawyers/contestants — will determine the winner of each trial. “It doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong in the case, it’s who does a better job arguing,” Darnell said. Rules for the show are still in flux since the skein — which won’t be on until late summer or early fall, at the earliest — is still in the early stages of development. What is known: Each week’s losing team will go before a fictitious judge and defend their performance, though it’s not yet certain whether the judge will make the final call on who gets eliminated each week. Fox and Rocket Science are in talks with several well-known lawyers about coming on board to serve in the Trump-like role as judge. Talks are also under way with several law firms about serving as the sponsoring firm for the show. Lawyers from the chosen firm will act as advisers to the two teams. Skein will culminate in the final two lawyers going head-to-head in one final blockbuster case. Like the Mark Burnett-produced, Trump-hosted “The Apprentice” — or “L.A. Law” — “The Partner” will showcase the dog-eat-dog dynamics that exist in a workplace setting. But Darnell said the idea for “Making the Firm” also capitalizes on viewers’ longtime love affair with legal shows of all kinds, from “L.A Law” to “Law & Order” to “Judge Judy.” “There’s natural drama in the competition to become a part of the firm. and there’s a natural drama in the trials,” Darnell said, calling the concept for the show “almost like the perfect idea for bringing something from the fictional world to reality.” “Lawyers are so verbose, so opinionated and want to be on camera,” Darnell said. “And the form here is so clean: You have a trial with a beginning, middle and end.” In addition to “Joe Millionaire” and its sequel, ICM-repped Rocket Science’s credits include “My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance” and “Temptation Island.” Shingle inked a multimillion-dollar overall deal with Fox last year.