×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Alphabet lands on ‘Mars’

Kelley gets 'Life' support at ABC

David E. Kelley is crossing the Pond for inspiration, landing format rights to buzzworthy BBC skein “Life on Mars” and setting it up at as a one-hour drama at ABC.

“Mars,” from U.K.-based Kudos Film & Television, revolves around a modern-day police detective who finds himself transported back to 1973. Kelley will write and exec produce the pilot via his company’s overall deal at 20th Century Fox TV.

Stephen Garrett and Jane Featherstone of Kudos will also serve as exec producers. Alphabet has ordered a pilot for fall 2007, with a significant penalty attached if the project doesn’t move forward to series.

Project came together relatively quickly following the BBC bow of “Mars” in January. U.K. skein generated big ratings — more than 7 million viewers its first night — and an order for a second season.

“Mars,” which takes its title from the David Bowie track, focuses on Det. Sam Tyler, who gets into a near-fatal car wreck shortly after his g.f. is kidnapped by a serial killer. He wakes up in 1973, still a cop but in a completely alien universe.

Further complicating matters: The first case he tackles in the 1970s seems to have links to the serial killer who nabbed his girlfriend. Viewers don’t know whether Sam has gone crazy, traveled through time or is actually still in a coma and dreaming the whole thing.

Skein makes heavy use of classic 1970s rock tracks, with music from the likes of the Who, Cream, Nina Simone and Roxy Music, among others.

NBC expressed a serious interest in the program even before Kelley was involved, but ABC — with its strong record launching hit dramas — ultimately landed the rights to the project, insiders familiar with the negotiations said. Alphabet broadcasts Kelley’s “Boston Legal,” which is on the bubble for a third-season renewal.

Peacock last year developed a pilot dubbed “NY-70,” a period drama about cops set in 1970s Gotham.

Kelley got wind of “Mars” via his reps at William Morris, who recently signed Kudos as a client. Kudos also produces the U.K. hits “MI-5” and “Hustle,” which air in the U.S. on A&E and AMC, respectively.

Matthew Graham, Tony Jordan and Ashley Pharoah created “Mars.”

More TV

  • 'The Crown': Josh O'Connor, Erin Doherty

    'The Crown': Josh O'Connor, Erin Doherty on Charles and Anne 'Breaking the Mold'

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “The Crown” Season 3 on Netflix. The arrivals Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor) and Princess Anne (Erin Doherty) midway through “The Crown’s” third season infuse the show with a youthful energy reminiscent of the first two years. But, they also offer a sense of rebelliousness, shaking [...]

  • SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Harry Styles"

    Harry Styles Premieres New Song, Plays Trash-Eating Dog on ‘Saturday Night Live’ (Watch)

    The past couple of seasons of “Saturday Night Live” have seen some impressive hosting/musical performer double-duty stints, including Childish Gambino, Halsey and Chance the Rapper — and last night Harry Styles was more than up to the challenge. The singer appeared in nearly every skit — including turns as a naïve office intern, a gangster, [...]

  • Mindy Kaling Actors on Actors

    Why Mindy Kaling Turned to Social Media to Find the Lead of Her Netflix Series

    Constance Wu (“Hustlers”) and Mindy Kaling (“Late Night”) explained how the internet helped expand the casting pool for their projects during a conversation for “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.” Wu began the interview: “When I did ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and they were looking for actors, it was crazy how many people said, ‘Well, there are [...]

  • SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Harry Styles"

    'Saturday Night Live' Turns the Impeachment Hearings Into a Soap Opera (Watch)

    “Saturday Night Live” kicked off its Nov. 16 episode with a take on the biggest news story of the previous week (and foreseeable future): the impeachment hearings. But another big story of the week, especially in Hollywood, was how NBC’s last remaining daytime drama, “Days of our Lives,” had let its actors out of their [...]

  • Andy Cohen attends BravoCon's "Watch What

    'The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City' to Debut in 2020

    Bravo announced Saturday during its first annual BravoCon that a tenth “Real Housewives” series, “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” will debut in 2020. Bravo host and “Real Housewives” executive producer Andy Cohen made the announcement during a panel titled “Ask Andy” at the NYC convention. “We’ve always tried to choose a city that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content