Collins scripts TV deal

Fremantle books drama programming

“American Idol” producer FremantleMedia North America is continuing its push into scripted programming, inking a first-look deal with Jackie Collins.

Pact calls for Fremantle to develop both traditional and telenovela-style drama programming with the novelist, using both her original ideas and existing library of bestsellers. Collins’ titles already have a TV history, with ABC, NBC and CBS all turning her books into longform projects.

Eugene Young, FMNA’s chief creative officer, called Collins “the queen of the guilty pleasure” and said the scribe is already starting to generate program ideas.

“She’s got a great track record of being able to tell a great story,” he said. “And she’s a voluminous consumer of pop culture who never misses a TV show, a magazine, a new story.”

It’s too early to say exactly what form Collins’ first project will take, but scribe said she’s keen on creating a telenovela-style drama with a beginning, middle and end. Whether the project airs weekly or is stripped for several weeks will depend upon the buyer.

“We’re thinking telenovelas because they’re so much fun,” Collins said. “And I love the idea of a series with an ending, rather than an idea that goes on forever.”

For FMNA, deal with Collins is designed to boost the company’s expansion into scripted fare.

Last summer, company produced the limited-run skein “Monarch Cove” for Lifetime.

It also has two pilots in contention at the broadcast nets. With CBS Par, Fremantle is adapting Simon Nye’s “The Beast” at the Eye. Over at NBC, company is reworking ITV skein “The I.T. Crowd” with NBC U TV Studio.

Peacock also has given a series order to Fremantle’s scripted-improv hybrid “Thank God You’re Here,” starring Dave Foley and David Alan Grier.

Young said Fremantle is trying to carve out a niche for itself as an alternative to the major studios.

“We’re looking for lower-cost fare that will appeal to a broadcaster who’s looking for a pretty inexpensive way to do television,” he said.

In the past, Collins — whose 25th book, “Drop Dead Beautiful: The Continuing Adventures of Lucky Santangelo,” hits shelves in July — might have channeled her energies into longform projects.

“But nobody wants to do a miniseries anymore unless they’re HBO,” she said.

Collins said she finds TV more interesting than movies these days, citing skeins as varied as “Prison Break,” “Brothers & Sisters” and “How I Met Your Mother” among her TiVo season passes. She owns four of the DVRs, two of which have dual tuners, allowing her to record no less than six shows at once.

“I think what the public wants is good stories,” she said. “They like reality shows, but they love real television drama — original programs with actors and scripts.”

Of Collins’ existing titles, Young said he’s particularly fond of “American Star,” the tale of star-crossed lovers from the heartland who find fame and fortune on opposite coasts, only to reunite years later.

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