Writer signs overall deal with studio

Scribe Jeff Bell has signed an overall deal at Warner Bros. Television, where he’ll serve as showrunner for the studio’s upcoming ABC drama “V.”

As part of the two-year, seven-figure deal, Bell will focus his attention immediately on “V,” but he will also work on development down the road.

“Like many people, I have fond memories of whatching the original miniseries,” Bell said. “And to see how they did it now, it’s epic. (Exec producer/scribe) Scott Peters did a fantastic job relaunching it. It seems like there are so many ways that you could go with this story.”

Bell was busy Wednesday meeting with the show’s new writing staff. The challenge now, he said, is to map out what direction “V” might take over the next several seasons.

Just as the original “V” used the story of an alien invasion as an allegory for Nazi Germany, the new “V” will tackle issues of government, devotion, race and faith.

“Especially when you look at our current times, with the economy, wars and social strife, it’s the perfect time for a force like this to come along,” Bell said. “In many ways this is a very American show, about the individual vs. society. It’s about how America can appreciate and question things that seem to be too good to be true.”

Alphabet has 13 episodes of “V” on tap for this year; show is set to launch sometime after January.

ABC Entertainment prexy Steve McPherson told reporters last month that “V” will have a set beginning, middle and end – allowing the show’s producers to properly map out the entire series mythology, something that the net’s “Lost” pioneered when it set a finale date in stone several years ago.

In the case of “V,” the show will expand and contract by season – some seasons may consist of 13 episodes, some may last longer.

“I’ve been on a bunch of serialized shows now, and it helps the audience to know that this is what you’re in for, and this is how and when it’s going to end,” Bell said. “We’ve been talking about it in terms of installments, either by chapters or seasons. We’ll build this first season to a big conclusion that is hopefully awesome, with a cliffhanger that launches you into the second season.”

Bell is familiar with such a setup; he most recently served as exec producer on CBS’ “Harper’s Island,” another serialized drama that had a pre-determined ending episode.

Prior to his Warner Bros. TV deal, Bell was set up at ABC Studios/Touchstone. At the Alphabet, he exec produced “Daybreak” and “Alias.”

Bell’s other credits include “Angel,” where he worked his way up to exec producer, and “The X-Files.”

On “V,” he’ll serve as an exec producer alongside Scott Peters (who penned the pilot), Jason Hall and Steve Pearlman. Yves Simoneau directed and exec produced the pilot.

“Scott and Steve have treated me as a partner in this, helping to shape this series,” Bell said.

A reinterpretation of the 1980s miniseries, “V” centers on aliens who invade Earth with a message of peace — but whose motives aren’t as pure as they let on. Stars include Elizabeth Mitchell, Morris Chestnut and Scott Wolf.

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