Tube biz gets Hurd mentality

Producer herds lineup for small screen

Gale Anne Hurd is looking to translate her blockbuster track record to the small screen, stepping up TV development at her Valhalla Motion Pictures shingle.

The “Armageddon” and “Terminator” producer has landed scripts at several broadcast and cable outlets, including three hourlong entries at CBS, two projects at Lifetime and another at FX.

Under the guidance of vet TV and film exec Stephen Tao, senior VP of film and TV development at Valhalla, as well as VP Stephen Emery, the company’s development ranges from projects set in space to dark comedy/dramas about eccentric families.

“They’re all fresh approaches to character-driven stories,” Hurd said. “Most of these came directly from the writers — they’re passion projects of theirs.”

That includes an untitled astronaut drama, set up at Lifetime, about women training for NASA’s space program. Drama follows the women’s lives as they juggle their families and their mission — racing against time to save six castaways at the Intl. Space Station.

Project, which also comes from Lions Gate, is written by Charlie Craig (“Peacemakers”), who went to college with Hurd and recently reconnected with her.

“It has elements of what made ‘Armageddon’ a successful movie: characters in jeopardy,” Hurd said. “Only this time we have a female cast.”

‘Dirty’ business

Also at Lifetime, Valhalla is developing the half-hour dark comedy “Dirty,” about a larger-than-life woman who runs a cosmetic company — and tries to kill her husband after a dispute cripples the family business.

J. Paul Higgins (“Truth or Consequences, N.M.”) will pen the single-camera skein.

Keeping with the family vibe, Valhalla is also developing the FX project “Nowhere Fast,” along with Paramount Network TV and former Viacom Prods. topper Perry Simon (Daily Variety, Nov. 14).

Initially developed at Viacom Prods., where Valhalla was previously set up, the one-hour drama revolves around a small-town drug lord who reconnects with his adult son and teenage daughter in the California desert — known as the meth capital of the world.

Written by Noah Hawley, project follows the lead character as he attempts to draw his kids into the family business.

Trio at Eye

Meanwhile, net is working on three projects at CBS, including a medical drama from Adam Belanoff (“Murphy Brown”) and Sony Pictures TV; an action/adventure hour set in the world of deep-sea divers, written by Ronnie Christensen (“Titan A.E.”) and from Paramount; and “Bullheads,” an hourlong comedy from Randy Anderson (“Joan of Arcadia”) about the quirky inhabitants of a small Minnesota town.

Already in development is the four-hour limited series “Red Mars” for the Sci Fi Channel. Project, based on the Kim Stanley Robinson science-fiction novel, is also being produced by NBC Universal.

“Gale loves to extend her brand,” Tao said of the wide range of projects. “She loves testosterone movies, but she also loves comedies.”

Hurd’s previous TV projects include the Emmy-winning HBO entry “Cast a Deadly Spell” as well as longforms “Sugartime” and “Witch Hunt.” She also produced 22 episodes of the syndie skein “Adventure Inc.,” along with Tribune Entertainment.

On the feature side, Valhalla is producing “Aeon Flux” with Paramount/MTV and Lakeshore.

Hurd combined her TV and feature development this fall (Daily Variety, Sept. 14), with former ABC and VH1 exec Tao overseeing production, development and acquisitions for both disciplines and Emery working on both as well.

“We work hand-in-hand on both, which allows us to meet the whole industry,” Tao said. “It’s a real evolution of our business.”

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