Crescendo sets first-look deal
Thesp Don Cheadle has now set his sights on building a mini TV empire.Crescendo, the production company Cheadle launched with former managers Kay Liberman and Lenore Zerman, has sealed a first-look TV deal at NBC. Shingle already has a handful of projects set up at the Peacock, as well as several more at ABC, TNT and FX. Fare includes an ABC adaptation of the feature “The Star Chamber,” from scribe Zack Estrin (“Prison Break”), as well as a Boston-set cop drama from John Hlavin (“The Shield”) at NBC. “We take it seriously,” Cheadle said. “I’ve found there are ways to execute stories in all these mediums. It just has to be something that tickles your fancy.” Cheadle said his decision to enter the TV game came out of a conversation he had with former NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios co-chair Ben Silverman at a party. “We came in as a company and met and talked, and I realized that there was maybe something here,” Cheadle said. “(After that), there were a lot of incoming calls with people trying to get into business with us.” Silverman is long gone, but Cheadle and Liberman said they have been working just as closely with Peacock entertainment topper Angela Bromstad and her team. “Don’s a gifted actor who also is an incredibly smart producer,” said Hlavin, who’s behind Crescendo’s “Boston P.D.” at NBC. Hlavin’s project will center on a homicide detective who discovers he shares a surprising connection to his new partner. Universal Media Studios is onboard as the studio. “The idea was to create a police procedural with a family drama at its heart,” Hlavin said. Estrin’s “The Star Chamber,” meanwhile, is set up at the Alphabet through 20th Century Fox TV. “Star Chamber” is a suspense drama that centers on a judge who goes after dangerous criminals who are set free by a flawed judicial system. Original “Star Chamber,” released in 1983, starred Michael Douglas, Hal Holbrook and Yaphet Kotto. Cheadle singled out “The Star Chamber” as one of his passion projects. Estrin will write and exec produce. Scribe’s credits also include “Prison Break,” “Point Pleasant” and “Tru Calling.” Estrin has also signed on as exec producer on the upcoming Fox series “Jack and Dan” alongside Matt Nix. Back at the Peacock, Crescendo also has the hourlong drama “Gemini,” which comes from writer Sid Quashie (“NOLA”). Project revolves around an operative inside a little-known government agency that investigates crimes; the lead character finds himself balancing two lives, including a deep secret. At TNT, cabler is close to signing on to develop “RX,” a medical drama from Crescendo and exec producer Brett King. Ed Horowitz (“Exit Wounds”) is writing the project with syndicated political columnist Norman Solomon. The project centers on a young doctor who establishes a clinic in downtown Los Angeles. Lionsgate is in talks to produce. Previously reported projects include “March to Madness,” a drama from scribe Joel Silverman and exec producers Pete Segal, Michael Ewing and Dave Miller (Daily Variety, Aug. 25). Set up at FX, “Madness” chronicles the glory and the seedy side of college basketball. FX Prods. would produce. Among the comedies in the works at Crescendo is “It’s All Love,” from “The Boondocks” creator Aaron McGruder (Daily Variety, Oct. 23). Crescendo is also still shopping new projects to nets, including the action drama “Ripple,” from newbie writer Cory Marciel. Project follows Jericho, an operative who is dispatched by researchers to prevent murders that have already happened. Cheadle, Liberman and Zerman have developed all of the projects along with recent Crescendo addition Kathryn Tyus-Adair. Thesp, whose feature credits include “Crash,” “Hotel Rwanda,” “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Traffic,” said it’s too soon to tell whether he’ll appear in or direct any of the smallscreen projects — but added that schedule permitting, he’d be game. “I’m not looking to leave features, but I never say never to good work,” said Cheadle, who noted that he appeared in a multiepisode arc on “ER.” “As my schedule allows, especially if it’s something really banging, absolutely (I’d do TV).”
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