Alphabet into romantic drama; NBC sez yes to Reiner

Start spreading the news: CBS is launching a third “CSI” to be based in Gotham and overseen by Anthony Zuiker, while ABC’s back in business with David E. Kelley — greenlighting a drama from the producer and scribe Jason Katims.

Alphabet web also picked up pilots Thursday from John McNamara, Graham Yost and Sally Robinson, while NBC officially said yes to a laffer from Rob Reiner. There’s also word that ABC and Sony Pictures Television are developing a new take on “Charlie’s Angels.”

As development for 2004-05 kicks into high gear, CBS is expected to formally announce Saturday the long-expected third installment in the “CSI” franchise. Zuiker, who created the original “CSI,” will create the series and write its pilot with his fellow “CSI” and “CSI: Miami” exec producers Ann Donahue and Carol Mendelsohn.

All three — as well as Jerry Bruckheimer — will be exec producers on “CSI: New York,” with Zuiker serving as showrunner. Donahue continues to run “CSI: Miami,” while Mendelsohn retains day-to-day oversight of original recipe “CSI.” CBS Prods., Alliance Atlantis and Bruckheimer Films will produce the spinoff.

Other locations mulled

There’s been talk of a third “CSI” almost from the moment “CSI: Miami” launched to spectacular Nielsen numbers two years ago. Numerous cities were considered for the new installment, including New Orleans.

It’s unclear if the new “CSI” will follow the same formula as the first two series, though there’s been buzz producer may want to introduce a twist into the franchise. CBS declined comment.

NBC is preparing plans for a fourth installment of “Law & Order,” though the net hasn’t yet made an announcement of the expected spinoff.

Meanwhile, the one-hour ABC romantic drama from Katims (“Roswell,” “Relativity”) and Kelley revolves around three sisters on Long Island who take over and modernize their parents’ wedding planner business.

The 20th Century Fox/Kelley project, described as the “Six Feet Under” of the wedding planning world, reps the first project to ever come from David E. Kelley Prods. that Kelley himself didn’t create.

Instead, Katims will write and be showrunner under the auspices of Kelley; both will exec produce. Fox had made a serious play for the drama, offering a series commitment, but the Kelley team ultimately believed the show would be a better fit for ABC. Kelley reps Michael Gendler, Marty Adelstein and William Morris Agency negotiated the deal.

Great pitch

ABC Entertainment TV Group chairman Lloyd Braun said the show boasted “one of the best pitches I’ve heard in a long time.”

“It’s a complete and total hoot,” he said. “These are three fantastic characters. We committed to the pilot off the pitch.”

Wedding planners are big at the Alphabet this year. Coincidentally, the net also has a sitcom about a wedding planner in development from scribe Suzanne Martin.

Also at ABC, execs confirmed they’re developing a new take on “Charlie’s Angels” with Sony Pictures Television, expected to be an action series modeled after Sony’s successful feature adaptation of the franchise.

Carlton Cuse (“Black Sash,” “Nash Bridges”) and John Wirth (“The District”) are writing the script and will exec produce; Alphabet’s attached a hefty penalty to the script.

’43 Minutes’ greenlit

ABC has also officially greenlit the pilot “43 Minutes,” from scribe Yost (“Boomtown”), about a SWAT team and how it handles the final 43 minutes of a crisis (Daily Variety, Jan. 7).

Yost will exec produce, along with Marla Ginsburg. He’ll also partner with brother Christopher Yost to write the pilot. Touchstone and FremantleMedia are behind the show.

Also, ABC officially gave the go-ahead to the McNamara project “Eyes,” which had already received a put pilot commitment from ABC (Daily Variety, Aug. 25).

McNamara (“Fastlane”) is writing and exec producing the pilot via his Warner Bros. TV-based McNamara Paper Products shingle. Show revolves around a high-tech security firm that operates along the fringes of the law in order to affect the outcome of a host of civil and criminal matters.

Then there’s Robinson’s project, “111 Gramercy Street,” the net’s third recent attempt at bringing an “Upstairs, Downstairs” riff to its schedule. “Gramercy Street” follows three nannies and the families they work for.

Projects dropped

Net had previously developed a pilot last spring called “111 Gramercy Park,” from Bob Brush, and later picked up a midseason show with a similar theme from Chris Keyser and Amy Lippman.

Both projects ultimately went by the wayside. Like those two, “111 Gramercy Street” comes from Warner Bros. TV and the Tannenbaum Co.

Meanwhile, NBC officially ordered a pilot from Universal Network TV and produced by Reiner, Alan Greisman and Dan and Sue Paige (“Once and Again”).

The Paige duo will write the pilot, which will focus on a newlywed couple who are both shrinks. The two end up moving in with the husband’s family, which includes more psychiatrists and other eclectic characters. NBC had already made a put pilot commitment and OK’d the hiring of a casting director for the show (Daily Variety, Oct. 30).

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