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Trekkie Piller, son ink WB prod’n deal

Team eyeing big and small screens

Veteran “Star Trek” scribe-producer Michael Piller and his son Shawn have pacted with the WB on a two-year, multiseries drama deal that includes at least one guaranteed production commitment, three pilot script orders and a provision that calls for them to supervise script development of other projects at the Frog net.

The father-son duo have also hung out their shingle, establishing the Hollywood-based indie production company Piller2, which will develop and produce both television and feature projects.

Enterprising producer

The elder Piller co-created “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Star Trek: Voyager,” serving as exec producer on more than 430 hours of the three skeins. He also wrote and was a producer of the most recent “Trek” feature, “Star Trek: Insurrection.”

WB Entertainment prexy Susanne Daniels called the pact “great news” for the Frog net.

“Michael Piller is synonymous with superb quality work,” she said. “(He) is that rare breed in television in that he has duplicated his success time and time again.”

After working with the WB on an unsold pilot last season, the Pillers maintained an open line of communication with the net that led to discussions on projects for 2000-01 and a blind pilot production commitment. As the WB’s interest in the potential skeins grew, the two camps decided to spread out development of the Piller pilots over two seasons via a multiproject deal.

“We’ve found everything we could want from a creative entity at the WB,” Michael Piller told Daily Variety, adding that Frog development execs “are very passionate people. They’re trying to take risks and bring viewers to new places. We feel very supported there.”

In the works

Among the WB projects in the works from Piller2:

  • a two-hour pilot being produced with Paramount that the elder Piller calls “a contemporary spiritual fantasy with heavy special effects” that’s based on an original concept of sci-fi scribe Orson Scott Card;

  • a Hitchcockian thriller skein in the tradition of “North by Northwest.” Pilot is a collaboration with Alan Spencer (“Sledge Hammer!”);

  • a futuristic adventure skein that, while not set in space, is on a “Star Trek”-size scale, with Granada Television is attached as a co-producer;

  • The elder Piller and scribe Brie Shaffer are working on a contemporary character-driven fantasy.

All four projects have script orders from the WB. The go pilot commitment will be applied to one of the projects, with the other scripts candidates to be greenlit over the next two years.

Harvesting talent

In addition to cranking out series, and eventually features, the Pillers hope to use their company as a lab for developing new writing talent. The company may even develop some scripts on spec “simply to show the networks that there are these writers out there who can deliver,” Michael Piller said.

The elder Piller, who had been under an overall deal at Par until last May, continues as a creative consultant on UPN’s “Star Trek: Voyager.” While he was an exec on “Next Generation,” the skein was nominated for a best drama Emmy.

Shawn Piller has written segs of “Next Generation” and “Voyager.” He’s also been an indie film producer for films such as “Too Pure,” “Oakland Underground” and “The Lovely Leave.”

Deal was brokered by Rob Rothman of the Rothman Agency and lawyer Steve Katz. The Pillers are also repped by Rosalie Swedlin of Industry.

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