Networks greenlight several pilots
Stephen Dorff has signed on to his first dramatic TV series role, starring in the CBS pilot “Skip Tracer,” from “The Sopranos” alums Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess.“Skip Tracer” was one of several pilots cleared for liftoff Monday, as CBS, ABC, NBC and the CW were busier than LAX during a holiday crunch. Besides “Skip Tracer,” Eye said yes to the U.S. version of U.K. hit “Viva Blackpool” (from Hugh Jackman), while ABC ordered the intriguingly titled entries “Cashmere Mafia” (exec-produced by Darren Star) and “Women’s Murder Club” (helmed by Brett Ratner). Also, NBC is once again moving forward with “Lipstick Jungle” and a project from “House” czar David Shore, while CW picked up the South Africa-based “Wild at Heart.” “Skip Tracer” comes out of Dorff’s overall deal at CBS; he’ll star as a good-hearted man who searches for people as a skip tracer in Los Angeles’ seedy underworld. CBS Paramount Network TV is behind the project, which is being written by Green and Burgess, who will exec produce with Dorff and Tucker Tooley. As part of his production deal at the Eye, Dorff is developing three more scripts there, including ones from Jeremy Miller and Daniel Cohn; Ridley Scott and Doug Richardson; and Robert Port and Simon West. Dorff, last seen in “World Trade Center,” will next star in the indie feature “The Dark Room.” Over at ABC, Star and Gail Katz (“The Perfect Storm”) are exec producing “Cashmere Mafia,” an hourlong drama from scribe-exec producer Kevin Wade (“Working Girl”). Potential skein focuses on a tight-knit group of four femme friends who went to business school together and now find themselves trying to balance their work, family and personal lives in Gotham. Suzie Fitzgerald will serve as co-exec producer. Wade’s other feature credits include “Maid in Manhattan” and “Meet Joe Black.” ABC also made it official for “Women’s Murder Club,” greenlighting production on the 20th Century Fox TV drama from helmer Brett Ratner. Net had attached a hefty penalty to its script order for “Club” last year (Daily Variety, Sept. 28). Liz Craft and Sarah Fain — who’ve worked together as writers-producers on “The Shield” — wrote the pilot script and will exec produce with Ratner, who’s attached to direct. Based on the James Patterson novels, the project revolves around four women — a detective, a reporter, a medical examiner and a government lawyer — who track down killers in San Francisco. Patterson and Joe Simpson (“Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica”) will also serve as exec producers. Ratner exec produces Fox’s “Prison Break,” having directed that show’s pilot. Meanwhile, Candace Bushnell’s “Lipstick Jungle” is back in play at NBC, with the Peacock greenlighting production on the NBC U Television Studio project. “Jungle” has been in the works for more than a year, and even snagged a production order last year. Peacock ultimately opted not to shoot the original script and put the project back in development. DeAnn Heline and Elaine Heisler (“Committed”) wrote the third and most recent draft and will serve as exec producers. Based on Bushnell’s novel of the same name, “Jungle” is a sort of older, more dramatic “Sex and the City,” dealing with powerful women in their 40s. Peacock has also given the formal thumbs-up to its untitled David Shore/Peter Blake hour, a comedic ensemble drama focusing on cops and featuring a female lead (Daily Variety, Oct. 17). Shore and Blake, who’ve worked together on Shore’s “House,” co-wrote the pilot and will serve as exec producers. Then there’s “Wild at Heart,” the second drama pilot officially to be picked up at the CW. Project, set to be shot in South Africa, revolves around an American family that moves to the country to open a wild game preserve. Drama, from CBS Paramount Network TV and Company Pics, is based on the British series of the same name. Michael Rauch is on board as writer and EP, while Charlie Pattinson and George Faber will also exec produce. As for “Viva Blackpool,” the drama (from Sony Pictures TV and CBS Paramount Network TV, as well as BBC and Seed Prods.) is now being called “Viva Laughlin.” Project had previously been given a seven-figure put pilot commitment from the net (Daily Variety, Oct. 18). Jackman, Bob Lowry, John Palermo, Paul Telegdy and Peter Bowker exec produce. The musical drama revolves around a man who has big dreams for his little casino in Laughlin, Nev.