Jerry Bruckheimer is teaming with “Seabiscuit” scribe-helmer Gary Ross for a one-hour medical drama set up at NBC.
Peacock has made a pilot commitment to the project, dubbed “Invisible,” and has agreed to a significant financial penalty if the pilot’s not greenlit. Jerry Bruckheimer TV will produce via its overall deal at Warner Bros. TV.
Medical thriller will focus on a rogue researcher for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who’s tracking a mysterious illness. Ross will write the pilot and serve as exec producer with Bruckheimer and Jonathan Littman.
Like most Bruckheimer shows, each episode will feature self-contained storylines. But in a bit of a departure for the producer, “Invisible” is also expected to have some serialized elements.
While all the Big Six are interested in landing Bruckheimer skeins, “Invisible” never had a serious shot at landing at the one net that might be most keen on one of his shows: ABC.
According to Alphabet insiders, WBTV and Bruckheimer reps have told ABC that the studio is seeking deals for Bruckheimer shows in which the network agrees to a 4½ year license fee agreement. Such short-term deals have all but vanished as nets have sought to protect themselves from being held hostage by studios in the event a series turns into a monster hit (think “ER”).
Nonetheless, WBTV hasn’t had any trouble extracting 4½ year license fee deals from other nets. NBC agreed to a shortened deal in order to get the next show from Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme.
ABC execs, however, believe such short-term deals aren’t financially responsible. That difference in business philosophies has resulted in some major WBTV projects not ending up at ABC, despite the net’s recent track record in launching drama hits (“Desperate Housewives,” “Lost,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Commander in Chief”).
Further complicating matters: ABC Entertainment prexy Steve McPherson developed Bruckheimer’s seminal hit “CSI” while at Touchstone Television. Disney brass infamously bailed on that show, which CBS Prods. and Alliance Atlantis ended up producing for CBS.
It’s worth noting, however, that ABC and WBTV are still doing plenty of business together for next season. Net also recently gave a full-season order to the studio’s frosh drama “Invasion.”
As for Bruckheimer and NBC, the two are currently in business on the Pentagon-set “E-Ring,” a frosh drama that’s done so-so numbers Wednesday nights. Peacock has ordered extra scripts but has not yet announced a decision on a full-season pickup for the show, which saw a decent Nielsen uptick last week.
Ross, meanwhile, is not a complete stranger to the small screen.
He’s writing and directing a segment for FX’s upcoming anthology miniseries “The Ten Commandments.” He also developed a period drama with the now-defunct ATG that was set up at the WB back in 2000.
On the feature front, Ross wrote and directed “Pleasantville” and penned the screenplays for pics such as “Big,” “Dave” and “Mr. Baseball.” He’s producing Universal’s remake of “Creature From the Black Lagoon,” being helmed by Breck Eisner (Daily Variety, Oct. 20).