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Helmer will be back

WBTV sets Nutter on pilot

Warner Bros. TV has set David Nutter to direct the pilot for “The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” prompting Fox Broadcasting to officially greenlight production on the “Terminator”-themed project.

Nutter, whose last 12 pilots have all been picked up to series, also will serve as exec producer. Andy Vajna and Mario Kassar’s C2 Pictures, which produced the most recent “Terminator” feature, is producing with Warner Bros. TV.

Fox made a put pilot commitment to “Connor” last fall (Daily Variety, Nov. 10), picking up the script from exec producer Josh Friedman (“War of the Worlds”). Kassar and Vajna will also exec produce.

Casting on “Connor” will begin immediately, with lensing expected to commence early next year in New Mexico.

Nutter — who directed the pilots of successes such as “Smallville,” “Without a Trace” and “Supernatural” — has a connection with original “Terminator” helmer James Cameron, having directed the pilot for Cameron’s Fox skein “Dark Angel.”

“It’s important for me to live up, as best I can, to the bar that Jim Cameron set,” Nutter told Daily Variety, saying the pilot “has to carry as much of a punch” as possible, even on a TV budget.

As a result, Nutter said he’s not thinking about directing any other pilots this season.

“This is a huge project that’s going to take an extensive amount of preparation and pre-production,” he said, adding he wants to protect “the integrity of what Cameron created.”

As outlined in Friedman’s script, new installment in the “Terminator” franchise revolves around robo-warrior Connor and her savior son, John Connor. C2 senior veepee of development James Middleton, who’s a producer on the project, said last fall that “Connor” will explore what happened to Sarah Connor after the end of “T2,” when the character went on the run.

“She has the weight of the world on her shoulders, and she also has to raise a 14-year-old son who may be the salvation of the world,” he said.

Original “Terminator” stars Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger won’t be involved in the new project, Nutter said.

Nutter said his involvement with “Connor” began after he bumped into Friedman at a screening, and Friedman told him about the project. Not long after, Nutter spent four days at Comic-Con, and that prompted him to request a copy of Friedman’s script.

“It really expanded the characters and did what any good movie-to-TV script should do, which is send them in directions you wouldn’t expect,” Nutter said.

Helmer recently inked a new overall deal with Warner Bros. TV (Daily Variety, June 26).

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