‘Heist’ pilot a steal for NBC

Liman taking skein's reins

Doug Liman is masterminding a primetime “Heist” for NBC.

Peacock has greenlit production on a pilot for an hourlong comedic drama to be directed by Liman (“Mr. & Mrs. Smith”) and written by Robb and Mark Cullen (“Lucky”). Project is a co-production between NBC Universal Television and Sony Pictures Television.

“Heist” — which has been in the works for nearly 18 months — is an “Ocean’s Eleven”-style hour about a group of thieves who’ll spend the season engineering and executing a grand scheme to simultaneously rob three Rodeo Drive jewelry stores. The twist: They’re planning to pull off the job during Oscar week.

Liman and the Cullens will exec produce along with Liman’s Hypnotic partner, Dave Bartis, as well as Bernie Brillstein and Peter Safran of Brillstein-Grey.

Pilot will began casting immediately and is being considered for a late midseason berth. Toward that end, the Peacock has ordered five additional scripts beyond the pilot. Assuming a greenlight, the first season will span 13 episodes; future seasons would involve a different heist, likely in a different city.

“Heist” was first put into development by NBC last summer. Project didn’t move forward — which in TV usually means the end of the road.

And indeed, “Heist” was considered dead. But not long after Hypnotic inked with NBC Universal, the script came to the attention of the Liman-Bartis shingle. Soon, the Cullens — who had just inked a two-script deal with Sony — were working on another draft, and within two months the project was again alive and kicking.

Because so much time had passed, NBC needed to make a new pact with the Cullens in order to revive the project. “Heist” also will count as one of the brothers’ scripts at Sony.

Earlier this year, Hypnotic snagged a significant commitment from CBS for “22 Birthdays,” a sudser from “The Simpsons” scribes Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein. Liman also intends to direct that project (Daily Variety, Aug. 15).

NBC Entertainment prexy Kevin Reilly worked with the Cullens on short-lived FX comedy “Lucky.” Last season, the brothers snagged a pilot order from Fox for the sitcom “New Car Smell.”

In addition to his feature work, Liman directed the pilot for “The OC.”

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