Brit laffer gets Star treatment
Darren Star is teaming with U.K. producer Baby Cow Prods. to bring an adaptation of the dark comedy “Nighty Night” to Showtime.
It’s the first time since 2000’s “Grosse Pointe” that Sony Pictures TV-based Star will both write and exec produce a series project. Baby Cow principals Steve Coogan (“A Cock and Bull Story”) and Henry Normal will also exec produce.
“Nighty Night” is being set up through Sony’s newly realigned development department, overseen by co-presidents Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg. Studio has formally eliminated the previous division between cable and broadcast and named Glenn Adilman and Sharon Hall senior VPs of comedy and drama, respectively.
As for “Nighty Night,” original Britcom — which has been airing on women’s cabler Oxygen — centers on a beauty salon owner who has developed an unhealthy obsession with her neighbor, a handsome married doctor. While her cheating husband is laid up in a hospital with a terminal illness, she manages to shove her way into the lives of the couple next door.
Showtime has ordered a pilot script, which Star will adapt and reset in the U.S. Oxygen is expected to get a production credit on the project.
Project reps a major push into the U.S. for Baby Cow, one of the leading suppliers of comedy in the Blighty market.
Van Amburg described “Nighty Night” as a sort of “Fatal Attraction”-style black comedy “with a very untraditional lead.”
“She’s an anti-hero protagonist, and Darren is eager to tap into that,” he said.
Commitment for WMA-packaged “Nighty Night” caps a year of tremendous growth for Sony, which has five new series on the fall schedule — up from just one for the 2005-06 season. What’s more, studio has a total of nine projects set up across the broadcast and cable dials, as well as returning hits such as “King of Queens” and “The Shield.”
As overseen by Erlicht and Van Amburg, who were upped to co-presidents in September, the studio has signed and fostered a select number of overall deals with producers including Star, Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison, Denis Leary’s Apostle, Gavin Polone’s Pariah, Sarah Timberman’s 25C and Neal Moritz’s Original.
“We were very selective going into these deals,” Erlicht said. “Pod deals have to be producers you believe in, who take an active role in productions and also have the right entry into their respective agencies.”
The good news? “All of the pods who we had done deals with resulted in series,” Van Amburg said. “There’s an absolute level of strategy in what we did, and then you leave it up to fate and fortune.”
Van Amburg and Erlicht credit Sony topper Steve Mosko with giving the pair the freedom to reorganize the studio’s development department since they were promoted to programming prexies in September.
“His management style is to set the bar and encourage autonomy,” Van Amburg said.
New exec structure formalizes a realignment that had been slowly coming into place for the last few months, part of what Van Amburg calls “an evolutionary strategy” to change the company. Indeed, Adilman and Hall were part of the team responsible for Sony’s strong development season.
As for the decision to move toward a more traditional development division, Erlicht said splitting projects between comedy and drama “seemed more organic to us.
“It helps with efficiency for our writers and pods,” he said. “These guys can go to one department and have all their needs met.”
In addition, “We found there was a lot of flow between cable and broadcast,” Van Amburg added, citing the animated series “Boondocks,” which was initially conceived for Fox and wound up on Adult Swim, ranking as one of cabler’s highest rated series.
Adilman has served as VP of development for Sony since 2004. Before that he was a senior VP of current at ABC, overseeing such series as “Alias,” “8 Simple Rules” and “According to Jim.”
Hall has spent the last year and a half consulting for Sony, spearheading the development of upcoming series “Kidnapped” for NBC and “Runaway” for the CW. She was previously veep for MTM TV, overseeing syndie and kids’ TV product.