New Showtime prexy works with familiar partners

David Nevins has turned to familiar creative partners for his first major development move in his new gig as Showtime entertainment prexy.

CBS’ pay cabler is closing in on a deal with 20th Century Fox TV’s Fox 21 unit for a conspiracy thriller drama pilot, tentatively titled “Homeland,” from “24″ alums Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa. It’s an adaptation of an Israeli TV series, “Prisoners of War,” from Keshet Broadcasting.

Gordon and Gansa wrote their adaptation on spec earlier this year (Daily Variety, March 18). Nevins, previously prexy of Imagine TV, worked closely with Gordon for most of the past decade on “24,” which hailed from Imagine and 20th.

“Homeland” marks the first time a 20th production entity has done business with Showtime, and it’s the first high-profile project to come from Fox 21 since producer Bert Salke took over the division in July.

The project revolves around the aftermath of the release of a U.S. soldier after a long period in captivity as a prisoner of war. He’s been presumed dead, which heightens the surprise when he is set free. But after he returns home, a female CIA agent becomes convinced that he has become a rogue agent now focused on aiding the enemy.

Gordon emphasized that Showtime is the perfect home for the project that he and Gansa envisioned as a pay cable series from the start. They were just about to start shopping their spec to network buyers when Nevins transitioned from Imagine to Showtime in July. Given their long association on “24,” on which Gansa also worked in recent seasons, Showtime was a natural fit for “Homeland.”

“We always wanted to do this as a cable show,” Gordon told Daily Variety. “It’s a serialized thriller. It’s something that will really work exactly in the space of a 10- to-12 episode season. That gives us the right breadth to tell the story and it’s the right amount of time to ask of an audience to make that commitment.”

After steering Jack Bauer through countless real-time calamities, Gordon said he’s looking forward to working on a project with two leads, one of which is a femme, and a less linear storytelling timeline and room to dive deeper into the character stories of the main characters.

“It has a very compelling hook but there’s a lot of room to develop and reverse everyone’s expectations as we tell the story,” Gordon said. The CIA agent will face her own vulnerabilities as it becomes clear she’s obsessed with preventing another Sept. 11-style terrorist attack.

Because the script has already been through a few drafts, the hope is to move forward with casting and lensing on a pilot as soon as possible, Gordon said.

Ben Affleck is understood to be in conversations about directing the pilot.

Gordon and Gansa will exec produce along with Gideon Raff, creator of the original series, and Keshet’s Avi Nir and Ron Telem.

In addition to “Homeland,” Gordon is fielding another high-profile drama project for 20th Century Fox TV and the Fox net in a collaboration with “Glee’s” Ryan Murphy (Daily Variety, Sept. 17).

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