Eye, Kanakaredes skating on ‘ICE’

Thesp hot for skein focusing on Homeland Security arm

Former “Providence” star Melina Kanakaredes is chillin’ with CBS, teaming with scribe Nancy Miller (“Any Day Now”) for a fall 2004 drama project dubbed “ICE.”

Following spirited interest from multiple webs, Eye has made a rich talent-holding deal with Kanakaredes geared toward having her topline and exec produce the Miller-penned skein. Combined, pact for both Kanakaredes and Miller is worth close to seven figures.

Project will have Kanakaredes starring as a member of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a wing of the Dept. of Homeland Security created in March that, according to the official ICE Web site, combines the investigative and enforcement arms of the Customs Service, the Federal Protective Service and the agency formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service. In addition to battling terrorists, ICE agents also have jurisdiction over cybersmuggling, money laundering, child porn and tracking stolen art, for example.

Miller said the new agency will provide a broad canvas on which to tell different kinds of crime stories, since ICE agents can get called in to explore any illegal activity in which something — or someone — crosses U.S. borders.

“The show is kind of about exploring crime and criminals from a world point of view, culturally and socially,” she said. “It’s everything from Blackhawk helicopters to Melina in a burka learning Farsi because she’s trying to go undercover in Iran.”

More reality-based

While Kanakaredes’ character will have a kick-ass Sydney Bristow-like quality, Miller said that “ICE” will “be more grounded in reality” than “Alias.”

“But it does have a lot of action and a lot of character exploration, and it’s going to have humor,” scribe said. “On my last show, ‘Any Day Now,’ we covered race a lot, but we always made you laugh.”

Project was brought to Miller by scribe Harry Kloor and producers Artie and Stacey Mandelberg. All three will be producers on “ICE,” while Kloor will also be a writer. Miller will write and exec produce the pilot, with Kanakaredes also serving as exec producer.

No studio is attached as yet to the project. As with most talent deals, CBS has the option of finding another project in which to cast Kanakaredes should it decide not to greenlight “ICE” to pilot this winter.

Femme reunion

ICM-repped Miller created and exec produced Lifetime’s “Any Day Now,” which last year wrapped a successful four-year run on the cabler. Scribe has also worked with Kanakaredes before, teaming with the actress seven years ago for the short-lived ABC drama “Leaving L.A.”

Kanakaredes, who’s repped by the Gersh Agency, is currently working on Broadway, playing Sally Bowles in “Cabaret.” She’s wrapped production on “Cruel and Unusual,” an indie pic from Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson.