Benderspink heats tube

New slate includes TV take on 'Monster'

Benderspink continues its push into television, reupping its smallscreen deal at Fox 21 and moving forward with a packed development slate that includes a possible TV take on “Monster-in-Law.”

Prolific feature shingle, whose credits range from “A History of Violence” to “The Ring,” has already found some TV success with “Kyle XY,” the ABC Family drama it exec produces via ABC Studios. Deal with Fox 21 (a unit of 20th Century Fox TV) will continue as a first-look arrangement, allowing Benderspink to set up projects at other studios.

Benderspink will go outside Fox 21 for a possible series version of the Jennifer Lopez-Jane Fonda starrer “Monster-in-Law.” Shingle has just begun working with the film’s producer, New Line, to develop a half-hour sitcom take on the concept that would be pitched to networks later this year.

At Fox 21, meanwhile, Benderspink’s new TV chief, Alex Kerr, has set up at least a half-dozen scripts for the coming development season. Among the scribes working on ideas: Brian Lynch, who’s signed on to write Fox’s upcoming “Sims” feature (Daily Variety, May 25).

Fox 21 prexy Jane Francis said Kerr — along with Benderspink’s Chris Bender, J.C. Spink and Charlie Gogolak — offer a different perspective on TV development.

“They bring something fresh to the whole genre, and their knowledge of the feature world really helps us,” she said. “They come in with really great ideas, rather than just writers with no ideas. And I love their client list and their creative instincts.”

Benderspink is going into its fourth year developing with Fox 21, having been one of the first companies with which Francis pacted when she helped launch the studio. While the relationship has yet to yield a series order, exec said she remains confident that will change soon.

“We’re so close,” she said. “We haven’t gotten anything made yet, but the projects keep getting better.”

Kerr, who joined Benderspink in October, said the shingle plans to develop a mix of comedy and drama scripts this season, as well as take a stab at nonscripted.

“We’re going to take shots in every arena,” he said, noting that he, Francis and other Fox 21 execs have worked with each other frequently in the past and share the same creative sensibilities.

While not ready to talk specifics, Kerr said finding some nonscripted projects is a priority this season. “Fox 21 wants to bring the Benderspink brand to reality,” Kerr said, noting the studio’s success with Katalyst and 3 Ball in producing the CW hit “Beauty and the Geek.”

On the scripted front, feature scribe Gerald Olsen — whose pitch “One Dave at a Time” was snapped up by Scott Stuber and Mary Parent last fall (Daily Variety, Oct. 19) — is closing in on a deal to develop a character drama.

Other writers that have set up projects at Fox 21 via Benderspink include Josh Heald (“All You Can Eat”), Phil Price (“The Business”), Alex Torres and Greg Widen (“Backdraft”).

Previously announced Benderspink TV projects include HBO’s “Preacher,” “Stephanie Spring” at VH1 and a TV take on “The Butterfly Effect” at Sci Fi Channel.

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