NBC greenlights Sonnenfeld drama

Reiter to write pilot for untitled legal thriller

NBC has given an early go to an untitled legal thriller from helmer Barry Sonnenfeld and scribe Luke Reiter (“Boston Legal”).

Universal Media Studios is producing the hourlong drama, which has been greenlit to production. Sonnenfeld — who’s also attached to the high-profile CBS pilot “Kingdom” — is on board to direct and exec produce the Reiter-penned pilot.

Potential skein will revolve around a well-respected Gotham legal firm that handles civil cases. Its take-no-prisoners lawyers will, according to the studio, “do whatever it takes to win their high-profile cases and outmaneuver each other.”

Greenlight comes in the wake of the critical success of FX’s “Damages,” which revolves around a group of high-priced Gotham lawyers who go to extremes to win their cases. UMS prexy Katherine Pope said the two shows are very different, however.

“I love ‘Damages,’ but this is much closer to ‘L.A. Law,'” Pope said, referring to one of NBC’s best-remembered legal dramas. “The idea behind it is that lawyers are in many ways con artists, and (the show) is about how we all con our way to the top and play the game.”

Pope said the show would also have undercurrents of “The Player,” but focusing on the world of lawyers rather than Hollywood.

Sonnenfeld is prepping future episodes of “Pushing Daisies,” the ABC pilot bowing next month. He’s also exec producing “Kingdom,” the Chad Hodge-penned hour recently snapped up by CBS following a fierce bidding war (Daily Variety, July 18).

It’s expected Sonnenfeld will helm the pilots for both “Kingdom” and the Reiter project. Sonnenfeld has a deal with Sony, but is free to direct projects for other studios.

Reiter’s credits include “Law & Order,” “Close to Home” and “The Practice.”

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