Net builds series around Batman's sidekick
Holy prequel, Boy Wonder, the CW is prepping a series based on Batman sidekick Robin’s pre-Caped Crusader days.“Smallville” exec producers Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson, as well as “Supernatural” exec producer McG, are behind “The Graysons,” which has landed a put pilot commitment at the netlet. Just as “Smallville” focused on Clark Kent in the years before he became Superman, “The Graysons” will follow the world of Dick “DJ” Grayson before he takes on the iconic Robin identity and aligns himself with Batman. Project reps the latest DC Comics franchise to be mined for the smallscreen by sibling Warner Bros. TV. McG’s Wonderland Sound and Vision label is also attached. Souders, Peterson, McG and Wonderland’s Peter Johnson will exec produce. “The Graysons” is seen as a potential replacement for “Smallville” should that show end its run this season, which has been speculated. Should “Smallville” return next year, “The Graysons” might also make a strong companion piece. CW insiders said they also see the “Graysons” development as a validating gesture by Warner Bros. that the company is still behind its 50% investment in the netlet, particularly following this fall’s strong openings for “Gossip Girl” and newbie “90210.” They believe the studio wouldn’t risk bringing one of its prized franchises to CW if it believed the net was in dire straits. In the one-hour “Graysons,” which will be set in modern times, young DJ will face challenges involving first loves, young rivals and his family as he grows up. Souders and Peterson have come up with an original take on the character. In the original Batman mythology, Grayson was a young acrobat and part of the family act called “The Flying Graysons.” He was orphaned when a gangster sabotaged his parents’ trapeze equipment. Bruce Wayne took him under his wing and trained him to help fight crime. Grayson later morphed into the character of Nightwing, as part of “The New Teen Titans,” and a series of new Robin replacements were introduced. Souders and Peterson serve as showrunners (along with Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer) on “Smallville,” which has just entered its eighth season. They’ve been with the hit drama since season two, and helped successfully transition the show following the departure of longtime toppers Miles Millar and Al Gough. In features, Peterson wrote “But I’m a Cheerleader,” while Souders was behind “Tell Me.” McG’s credits also include NBC’s “Chuck” and the upcoming feature “Terminator Salvation.” “The Graysons” reps McG’s second DC Comics sale this year: Wonderland is also behind the Fox project “Human Target,” which Jon Steinberg is writing. CW predecessor the WB tackled the Batman mythology with 2002’s short-lived “Birds of Prey,” which followed a group of female superheroes who flew in to protect Gotham after Batman disappeared. Burt Ward, of course, played Dick Grayson/Robin in the campy 1965-68 TV series “Batman.” And several animated versions of the Batman story have appeared on the smallscreen through the years, most recently KidsWB’s “The Batman.” Bob Kane created the DC Comics characters.