ABC pilots ‘Blue Dress’ black detective skein

Helmer Carter, scribe Mills bring Easy Rawlins to TV

Helmer Thomas Carter and scribe David Mills are resurrecting Denzel Washington’s detective character from 1995’s “Devil in a Blue Dress” for a one-hour urban detective drama in development at ABC.

Alphabet has given a pilot commitment to the project, which is being produced inhouse by Touchstone Television and targeted for the 2000-2001 season. Carter (“Equal Justice,” “Miami Vice”) will exec produce and direct the pilot, with Mills (“ER,” “Homicide: Life on the Street”) penning the script.

Released by Col TriStar in 1995, “Devil” featured Washington as Ezikeal “Easy” Rawlins, a black detective in 1948 Los Angeles who becomes entangled in a web of politics and racism as he tracks down a wealthy white woman who’s mysteriously disappeared. Carl Franklin (“One False Move”) helmed the pic, which was based on a Walter Mosley novel.

Washington is not attached to the skein, but the show will feature a black thesp in the lead and retain the strong African-American themes of the pic. With the major webs under attack for a lack of minorities in their fall shows, the Carter-Mills project could rep a significant step forward toward addressing those concerns.

In addition to serving as exec producer of “Equal Justice,” Carter exec produced HBO’s “Don King: Only in America,” which won the Emmy in 1998 for best telepic. Carter also exec produced and wrote the short-lived drama “Divas” in 1995.

A former journo, Mills has served as a co-producer on “ER” and “NYPD Blue” and also wrote for the NBC detective drama “Homicide: Life on the Street.”

Carter and Mills are repped by CAA.