Network picks up one-hour crime drama

Fox has given a pilot order to a one-hour procedural drama from scribe Sam Baum that’s also partly inspired by one of Brian Grazer’s interests.

Untitled procedural centers on a former law enforcer with the uncanny ability to read people to determine if they’re lying. He pairs up with a female clinical psychologist to open up an agency and put his skill to work.

Twentieth Century Fox TV and Grazer’s Imagine TV are behind the project, which has been picked up with a substantial penalty by the network.

According to Imagine TV prexy David Nevins, Grazer has been interested in the science of facial recognition and deception detection for some time. Independently, Baum had been studying the question of how and why people lie.

“This is something we’ve been talking about doing for two or three years, but it wasn’t until Sam Baum came in with a very specific character take that it was clear to us how to do the show,” Nevins said.

Baum said he first grew interested in the topic after reading a study that said Americans tell lies in 32% of daily interactions. That led him to learn more about so-called human lie detectors.

“The real pioneers of the field in deception detection go through their life knowing when people are lying to them or holding back emotion,” Baum said. “It’s got to be a huge blessing and a terrible curse — and I was very interested in what that could do to someone’s life.”

Imagine eventually caught wind of Baum’s interest via his agent; the project was set up inside Imagine soon thereafter. Grazer even took part in the pitch meetings.

Other nets showed interest, but Fox Entertainment chairman Peter Liguori and prexy Kevin Reilly, who have been aggressively pursuing projects this fall, made a preemptive bid and ultimately landed the hourlong.

“It seems like this one really connected with Reilly and Liguori,” Nevins said.

Baum, whose credits include creating ABC drama “The Evidence,” will write and exec produce the pilot; Grazer and Nevins will also exec produce.

Unlike most modern procedurals, the Baum project won’t focus only on crime. Baum is looking to also do character-driven stories, such as one about a wealthy man who hires the agency to figure out whether his fiancee is telling the truth or is just interested in his money.

“It’s a process of not only finding out whether someone is lying, but what they’re lying about,” said Baum.

Production is set to start on the pilot soon after the new year. It’s been a big year for Grazer passion projects in development; Fox gave a thumb’s up this summer to “The FBI,” another Imagine project based on one of Grazer’s fascinations.

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