Once Upon a Time Productions will produce
Prolific telepic producer Stan Brooks is getting into the series biz, setting up several projects at cable networks under his Once Upon a Time Prods. banner.Producer — whose AMC mini “Broken Trail” is up for a leading 16 Emmy noms this year — isn’t abandoning longform. He’s just started lensing on his 50th production — a four-hour miniseries for Lifetime Movie Network. But Brooks, who’s dabbled with the idea of series before, said the realities of the telepic biz, as well as a stepped up role for head of production Damian Ganczewski, convinced him it was time to make his move. “You don’t have to be a genius to know that the TV movie business is a roller coaster, and we’re at the lowest point of the ride,” Brooks said. Biggest series project for Once Upon a Time is a half-hour series take on Del Shores’ 2001 feature film “Sordid Lives” that’s in the works at the Logo net. Delta Burke, Olivia Newton-John, Beau Bridges and Leslie Jordan are in talks to reprise their roles from the pic for TV, Brooks said. “Lives” is the story of a small trailer park in Texas and the women who live there. “It’s ‘Steel Magnolias’ from the wickedest gay perspective,” Brooks said. Shores, who will also exec produce, has written all 13 episodes of the project in advance so that the skein can be shot like a miniseries. “It needed creative financing and production models, and we were able to come with a plan that would let it be very cost-effective for Logo and put as much money on the screen as possible,” Brooks said. Once Upon a Time is also developing “Detention,” a teen-centric hour for ABC Family. Project, from scribe Robert Munic (“Get Some”), is described as “Superbad” meets “The Breakfast Club” and will follow individual stories of early-morning detention. Action will be seen from multiple perspectives, including those of students, parents and teachers. “It’s mostly characters from Robert’s life, along with some stories from my three sons,” Brooks said. In addition, Brooks has pacted with screenwriter Michael Schiffer (“Crimson Tide”) on a drama about soldiers returning from Iraq. It hasn’t yet been pitched to networks. Also in early development: “Zombie Tales,” based on the Boom Comics tome of the same name. Boom Studios founders Andrew Cosby and Ross Richie will join Brooks as exec producers of the project, which imagines a world where everyone’s a zombie — except members of one high school senior class. Dan Berendsen (“Cinderella III: A Twist in Time”) will write. Key to Brooks’ move to step up his series game — particularly in the case of “Lives” — was the decision he quietly made five months ago to sign with Paradigm. “They said to me, ‘We don’t understand why you’re not directing more of your company’s energies into series,’ ” Brooks said. As for longform, the Lifetime Movie Network project, titled “Chasing the Devil,” explores the case of Seattle’s notorious Green River Killer. It’s based on the book of the same name by Sheriff David Reichert, to be played in the mini by Tom Cavanagh (“Ed”). John Pielmeier (“Agnes of God”) wrote the script and Norma Bailey is directing. Sharon Lawrence (“Hidden Palms”), James Russo (“Broken Trail”) and Amy Davidson (“8 Simple Rules”) have also been cast in the pic, expected to air next year on LMN. “We wanted to tell the story from the point of view of two young runaways, one of whom we know won’t make it,” Brooks said. “Chasing the Devil” marks LMN’s first-ever original longform production. It’s the latest example of a Brooks production serving as a cable net’s first original telepic or miniseries. He’s also provided AMC, MTV, ESPN and TNT with their inaugural longform outings. “I like christening networks,” he quipped. Once Upon a Time is also in development on nearly two dozen hours of longform programming, including three projects at Lifetime, as well as pics at TNT, Disney and Oxygen.