DreamWorks TV is coming off its most successful development season ever, with 21 projects in the works at seven different outlets.
The increased output comes a year after Viacom acquired DreamWorks Pictures (and, as a result, its DreamWorks TV arm).
The Viacom purchase hasn’t yet made much of an impact at DreamWorks TV, which remains set up at NBC Universal TV Studio under a pre-existing deal. But that pact is set to expire in June, and a resurgent DreamWorks TV could very well become part of Viacom’s attempts to get back into the tube game.
But those conversations won’t begin in earnest until next year. In the meantime, DreamWorks TV has been busy this fall, spreading out its development by setting up comedy and dramas at both cable and broadcast nets.
Along with three longform projects in the works — and three existing series, including the upcoming Fox reality entry “On the Lot,” with Mark Burnett — the shingle boasts its largest crop of projects since forming 11 years ago, note DreamWorks TV toppers Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey.
Despite its NBC U TV deal, DreamWorks is working with other studios in many cases, particularly on non-Peacock projects.
“We made a concerted effort to spread out and be at as many networks as possible, from both broadcast and cable,” Frank said. “We’re happy with how diverse our slate is. We found the right shows for the right networks. We’ll never be in the volume business, but we realized that if we wanted to get more series on the air we needed (to develop more).”
Beyond a pair of dramas that DreamWorks principal Steven Spielberg is personally shepherding (Daily Variety, Dec. 11), DreamWorks TV’s roster also includes a laffer based on an original idea from Spielberg.
Coming out of that Spielberg pitch, Showtime is developing a single-camera domestic comedy with a high-concept twist surrounding the family’s mother. Diablo Cody, who wrote the upcoming feature “Juno” (as well as the book “Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper”) is set to pen the untitled laffer.
“It’s a tour de force role for whomever decides to play the role of the mom,” Falvey said.
Frank said Cody was an example of new scribes whom DreamWorks set out to find this year under development chief Jonathan Berry.
“Jonathan really canvassed the town to find great voices we weren’t aware of,” Frank said. “He really delivered this year for us.”
DreamWorks is redeveloping a project with another new writer, blogger Jason Mulgrew, whose project (teamed with “Scribes” co-exec producer Eric Weinberg) for NBC was rolled to this year.
The shingle is also back in business with familiar names like scribe Cheryl Holliday, whose pilot “Generations” was ordered by CBS. Holliday is working on a second project with DreamWorks, an ensemble female comedy for NBC, through NBC U TV.
Also at NBC and NBC U, the shingle is developing the car dealership comedy “Big Ed,” from Jeff Martin (“The Simpsons”), and a laffer about a man who recently woke up from a coma, from Mark Reisman (“Frasier”).
Having found success with “Las Vegas,” DreamWorks TV returns to Sin City for the comedy “Vegas Baby” at Fox (through 20th Century Fox TV). Steve Leff (“Good Morning, Miami”) is behind the show, which looks at pals who move to Vegas to pursue their dreams.
At ABC, “Kids in the Hall” alum Bruce McCulloch created the suburban laffer “Carpoolers” for Touchstone TV, while Dawn Dekeyser (“Becker”) and Clay Graham (“Drew Carey”) are working on a laffer about a woman coping with a new husband and child.
Then there’s “Three Girls and a Bastard.” The CW comedy project, from scribes Alyssa Embree, Jessica Koosed and Stacey Harmon, revolves around three clueless twentysomethings who must adapt when one becomes pregnant. CBS Par Network TV is also aboard.
On the drama front, “Taken” scribe Les Bohem — who’s already writing DreamWorks mini “Nine Lives” for Sci Fi Channel — is behind TNT’s “Nashville,” about a young singer-songwriter who moves to Music City to chase his dreams.
Walter Parkes and Wesley Strick are developing FBI undercover thriller “The Compass” for NBC and NBC U TV. Also there: “The Expert,” about a woman who solves crime through her hyper-intelligent senses. Chris Murphey (“Conrail”) is writing.
At Sci Fi Channel, DreamWorks and NBC U TV are working on “The Devil’s Advocate,” from Jonas McCord (“Ask the Dusk”), about a secret org. Burnett — who is also partnered with DreamWorks on “The Contender” in addition to “On the Lot” — is attached as well.
And DreamWorks is developing a second time-travel project (besides a previously announced Scott Gemmill script for Fox): “Past Imperfect,” from Gardner Stern (“Las Vegas”), about lawyers who are transported back 50 years. Script is at NBC through NBC U TV.
Frank and Falvey also touted DreamWorks TV’s longform biz. Besides “Nine Lives,” the shingle is working on the adaptation of Stephen King’s “Talisman” for TNT and the Spielberg/Tom Hanks collaboration “The Pacific” for HBO (a follow-up to their “Band of Brothers”).
Company currently produces “Las Vegas” via NBC U for the Peacock and is partnered with Sony Pictures TV on FX’s “Rescue Me,” which returns for season four in February. “On the Lot” is also set to preem next spring.
Falvey said DreamWorks hopes to consistently diversify its slate without stretching its small staff too thin.
“We’re attempting to utilize the great assets we have, the people internally at our company and the new relationships we’ve developed,” he said.
(Josef Adalian contributed to this report.)