ABC, NBC have artsy ambitions
Baby, remember these names: NBC and ABC are teaming with Bill Condon and McG, respectively, on separate projects about young people trying to make it in Gotham’s performing arts scene.After battling off multiple bidders, Alphabet has raised the curtain on “Limelight,” giving a series commitment to an hourlong drama partly inspired by hip-hop producer Pharrell Williams. NBC, meanwhile, has ordered a script for the untitled project to be written by Robin Schiff (“Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion”). Alphabet’s “Limelight” follows the world of students and faculty at a performing arts school in New York; Williams, who is onboard as a consulting producer, attended a similar school while growing up in Virginia. Project comes from exec producers McG (“Chuck”), Leonard Goldberg (“Charlie’s Angels”) and David S. Rosenthal (“Gilmore Girls”); Rosenthal is set to pen the pilot. Wonderland TV topper Peter Johnson is co-exec producer. Warner Bros. TV is behind the show via McG’s Wonderland Sound and Vision label. ABC landed “Limelight” after a fierce bidding war that involved the CW, Fox and other nets. The producers ultimately went with the Alphabet net because of its marketing prowess and the fact that there’s nothing else like “Limelight” there at the moment. Project comes with a substantial, mid-six-figure penalty should it not move forward. “This project reminded me a lot of my own life growing up,” Williams said, “coming from a different environment where we stuck out for having abilities that we later learned, after attending a school like this, were actually gifts and talents. The moral DNA for this project is that it’s OK to dream, but to bring it to fruition requires hard work.” A three-time Grammy winner, Williams — as one-half of producing duo the Neptunes — is behind hits such as Nelly’s “Hot in Herre.” “Pharrell is the ultimate embodiment of credibility in this space,” McG said. “He attended a performing arts high school and went on to become the most prolific producer of our generation.” Rosenthal has been serving as a consulting producer on “Men in Trees” this season; he most recently served as showrunner on the final season of “Gilmore Girls,” which wound up its run in May. Meanwhile, McG is also behind the script “Invisible,” being developed at Fox via Warner Bros. TV. Ari Eisner (“The 4400″) is writing the project, which focuses on a criminal who accidentally becomes invisible — and is given a new lease on life. As for the NBC musical project, Condon became attached to the project after his “Dreamgirls” collaborator Larry Mark pitched him on the idea of a musical series. Project will focus on a group of young performers living together in New York, trying to find fame and success in their creative endeavors. Condon described the potential one-hour as a comedy-drama but said it won’t be too light. “It’s a very serious, very emotional show, and the real appeal for me was that it’s a chance to tell part of the story through music and dance,” helmer said. “The chance to continue working with music got me interested.” Skein will feature a variety of performances, from music and dance to short films and commercials. But the action won’t stop to let characters break into song. “It’ll all be done very realistically,” Condon explained, adding that if the project gets greenlit to pilot, he wants to cast thesps who actually are struggling performers. “With our songwriter character, we’d want to find someone who is a writer and use their songbook,” he said.