ABC signs 'Wicked' songwriter, Fox gets 'Punisher'
ABC Studios has sold a music-driven hour to ABC from a team including “Wicked” songwriter/lyricist Stephen Schwartz as well as an adaptation of Marvel comicbook “The Punisher” to Fox, which has given the project a put-pilot commitment.In addition, ABC Studios has sold hourlong drama “The Circle,” its fourth project of the season from “Grey’s Anatomy” creator Shonda Rhimes. Schwartz, who has won Oscars, Golden Globes and Grammys for plays ranging from “Godspell” to “Enchanted,” is partnering with Five for Fighting singer/songwriter John Ondrasik, for drama “Someone Like Me,” which explores the lives of two sisters. One is a singer-songwriter legend, the other forever in her shadow; their worlds collide as adults, sending their family and friends spinning — especially a 17-year-old girl whose own talents are exploding. Ondrasik and Schwartz will write original music for the series, which was initially conceived by the songwriters along with Dawn Soler, senior VP of music at ABC. Ondrasik and Schwartz will serve as executive producers along with Richard B. Lewis (“August Rush”) and Karen Janszen (“A Dolphin Tale”), who will also write the script. ABC Studios has also sold “Punisher,” an hourlong procedural from exec producer Ed Bernero based on the Marvel comic. Fox’s smallscreen version of “Punisher” will focus on NYPD detective Frank Castle (not to be confused with ABC’s “Castle”), whose alter ego is that of a vigilante seeking justice for those failed by the court system. Bernero is an ex-Chicago cop who went on to co-create “Third Watch” for NBC with John Wells and has been an exec producer for CBS’ “Criminal Minds.” ABC Entertainment topper Paul Lee has made mining Disney-owned Marvel a priority and already has series adaptations of “The Incredible Hulk” and “Jessica Jones” under consideration at his own network. Rhimes’ Shondaland continues to be a top spot for TV development execs on the prowl. Richard Robbins wrote the script for “Circle,” a soapy conspiracy thriller about 10 people who were adopted by a billionaire. When one is murdered, the others begin to ask questions about their past. Rhimes, Betsy Beers and Robbins exec produce. In September, ABC acquired an untitled legal drama written by Jenna Bans from Shondaland and ABC Studios, preceded by “Gilded Lillys,” a period drama from K.J. Steinberg. Earlier this week, Fox acquired Shondaland’s “Wildwood,” a 1985-set dramedy about a teen who works at a Jersey Shore bar. The deal for “Someone Like Me” was brokered by Gersh/Rain Management/Hansen Jacobson on behalf of Janszen; CAA and Lichter, Grossman on behalf of Lewis and Nancy Rose/Elliot Groffman on behalf of Schwartz and Ondrasik.