Spielberg project one of many for TNT, TBS, TruTV
Steven Spielberg is looking to invade TNT.In the upfront tubthump for the Turner cablers, TNT announced it is developing an alien invasion project with the helmer and DreamWorks TV. It was one of a slew of development projects — from such auspices as Steven Bochco, Kevin James, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick and scribe Matt Williams — unveiled for TNT and TBS as part of Turner’s upfront presentation at Gotham’s Hammerstein Ballroom on Wednesday. The Spielberg project, which follows a group of ordinary men and women as they fight to survive the invasion, has been ordered to pilot. Spielberg will exec produce along with DreamWorks TV heads Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank and “Saving Private Ryan” screenwriter Robert Rodat. Rodat is penning the script from an idea he hatched with Spielberg. Most of Turner’s upfront was devoted to touting upcoming series including “Hawthorne,” starring Jada Pinkett Smith as a tough but compassionate nurse, which is set to bow next month. Far and away the biggest aud reaction came for TNT show “Men of a Certain Age” starring Ray Romano, Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher. It’s set for a December preem. Turner execs, notably ad sales prexy David Levy, took every opportunity to needle the broadcast nets. Levy joked that times were so tough for ABC that instead of the show’s tropical location, the net “is now shooting ‘Lost’ on Staten Island.’ ” The TruTV development slate was unveiled at the upfront, with net g.m. Mark Juris trying to explain how the cabler sees the difference between “reality” and “actuality,” the latter being the net’s new term for its own nonfiction content. Projects in development at TruTV include football show “NFL: Full Contact” and “US Special Ops: Declassified,” a mix of interviews and dramatizations of terrorist plots foiled by covert military action. Net also announced “Conspiracy Theory With Jesse Ventura,” in which the former Minnesota governor and professional wrestler, who believes 9/11 was an inside job, will investigate subjects like Area 51. TNT announced several projects being developed inhouse: “Class Action,” a legal drama from “Raising the Bar” creator Bochco; “Zapata, Texas,” developed by “The Closer” thesp Sedgwick and her husband, Bacon; and an untitled family drama from “Roseanne” creator and “Home Improvement” co-creator Williams. Also for TNT, Warner Horizon will develop screenwriter Daniel Pyne’s L.A.-set period noir drama, as well as “Pastor Jazz,” starring Charles S. Dutton. The TBS development slate includes two comedy shows from Sony Pictures Television: a live-action half-hour from “King of Queens” and “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” star James and an animated project from “The Drew Carey Show” writer Clay Graham called “Big Tow.” Jeffrey Katzenberg showed up to promote “Neighbors From Hell,” DreamWorks Animation’s half-hour comedy slated for 2010 (Daily Variety, April 15). Tyler Perry appeared to promote the renewal of his two TBS shows, “Meet the Browns” (returning May 27) and “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” (returning in July). George Lopez joked with the mostly white aud about how the Latino population of the room would increase when the time came to clean up after the presentation. Lopez appeared with no less a public figure than Barack Obama in his promo for his latenight talkshow, to debut in November on TBS (Daily Variety, March 25).