Network to develop pilot for U.K.

Opening another front in the British invasion of the domestic TV biz, CBS and CBS Paramount Network Television have signed a first-look pact with the U.K.’s Red Production, home of the original “Queer as Folk” and other edgy drama and comedy programs.

Deal includes a blind commitment for CBS to develop at least one pilot for the 2008 development derby with Red, run by principals Nicola Shindler and Andrew Critchley. Agreement allows CBS and CBS Par Network TV to dip into Red’s projects in the works for the U.K. and its sizable archive of shows, which includes the BAFTA-winning BBC drama “Clocking Off” and the Beeb’s “Conviction,” ITV’s “Bob and Rose” and “The Second Coming.”

Red also has its first theatrical release set to bow through Film Four/Channel Four later this month. “Mark of Cain” is based on the Iraq war and mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by coalition forces.

Red hooked up with the Eye network and its sibling studio through its affiliation with Pangea, the management-production entity backed by bustling Brit production house RDF. Chris Coelen, the former UTA partner who now heads Pangea and RDF’s domestic arm, RDF USA, will serve as an exec producer on all Red projects developed through the CBS/CBS Par TV deal along with Shindler and Critchley.

Pangea senior veep Karrie Wolfe and Brian Lenard, manager of development, will also help shepherd Red’s projects.

Nancy Tellem, prexy of the CBS Paramount Entertainment Television Group, was a prime mover in cutting the deal with Red. CBS Par Network TV president David Stapf and CBS Entertainment prexy Nina Tassler also have been keeping close tabs on shows and producers making waves overseas. The Eye’s development slate for this year includes “Viva Laughlin,” a redo of the BBC’s “Viva Blackpool,” one of numerous adaptations of British program formats on the broadcast nets’ development dockets this year.

Shindler, who founded Red in 1998, said the one-year pact, which includes an option for another year, with CBS and CBS Par TV feels like “a great fit” for her company.

For Coelen, the Red pact is indicative of the major push that Pangea and RDF USA will make for the 2008 broadcast development frame. The two entities were still in their formative stages last year when the ’07 development cycle began. RDF USA is currently home to ABC’s “Wife Swap” and the upcoming Showtime drama “Meadowlands.”

“Red has consistently produced some of the best and most contemporary dramas on British television,” Coelen said. “We’re really eager to get out in front of development with them and CBS this year.”

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