Berman, Braun adding U.K. spice to projects
Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun have set up a pair of projects at NBC, both with U.K. connections.BermanBraun is teaming with “Prime Suspect” scribe Lynda LaPlante on “Mafia Wives,” an hourlong drama script about mob wives who take over the family business. LaPlante will write the pilot and serve as exec producer, along with Braun and Berman. While best known for the Helen Mirren starrer “Prime Suspect,” U.K. scribe LaPlante also wrote “Bella Mafia,” the novel that CBS turned into a hit miniseries a decade ago. More recently, she’s had a Blighty hit with the “Trial and Retribution” series. Berman and Braun are also in business with Jane Bussmann, a former columnist for London’s Guardian newspaper who went on to work on a number of successful U.K. skeins, including “Smack the Pony” and “Jam.” Bussmann has created a comedic project about a has-been hairdresser trying to raise his kids. She’ll write and exec produce the pilot script, with Berman and Braun exec producing as well. In addition to numerous U.K. projects, Bussmann is also a former writer for Comedy Central’s “South Park.” Bussmann and LaPlante projects both will be produced by BermanBraun in association with Universal Media Studios, which has a rich first-look deal with Berman and Braun. New NBC co-chief Ben Silverman and development head Teri Weinberg probably didn’t need much introduction to Bussmann or LaPlante. Both execs are known for their strong international ties, having developed “The Office” and “Ugly Betty” from global formats. BermanBraun projects rep the first confirmed network sales for the company, which is in the middle of its first full development season. It tapped Rachel Kaplan, an ex-Warner Bros. exec, to head scripted development last spring. Earlier this summer, BermanBraun inked deals with a number of notable scribes, including Zak Penn (“X-Men: The Last Stand”), Blake Herron (“The Bourne Identity”) and Tim & Tom Mullen (Daily Variety, June 27).