Sony taps Jordan to retool ‘Kingdom’

CBS passed on period drama pilot post-strike

Sony Pictures TV is turning to U.K. scribe Tony Jordan to rethink its drama pilot “Kingdom.”

CBS made a hefty put pilot commitment (with $2.2 million penalty) last summer to the fantasy drama penned by Chad Hodge and set to be directed by Barry Sonnenfeld (Daily Variety, July 18). But the Eye ultimately passed on the project post-strike.

“As a result of the strike, we thought there might be a smarter way to produce this,” said Sony Pictures TV programming/production co-prexy Jamie Erlicht.

That got the wheels turning at Sony, which wasn’t about to abandon the project. Instead, the studio decided to go international.

“We realized that maybe we’re living in one world now, with U.S. shows translating bigger and brighter in the foreign marketplace,” said Sony Pictures TV programming/production co-prexy Zack Van Amburg. “Either we reverse-engineer shows, which we call ‘show laundering,’ or maybe we take a dual-window approach. Some of this story will be ongoing — that’s the exciting part.”

Set in the age of knights and castles, “Kingdom” revolves around four young men, one of whom discovers he’s heir to the throne. That changes the dynamic between the four, including the new reluctant king.

Sonnenfeld remains attached as exec producer-director, while Hodge also remains as an exec producer.

Van Amburg and Erlicht said they expect to save money by moving the production to Europe, as they won’t have to build expensive sets — instead they’ll shoot at actual castles.

Jordan will polish the script in the coming weeks; Van Amburg and Erlicht then plan to fly to the U.K. in June to scout out potential partners.

“We’re open to all possibilities,” Erlicht said, be it a network deal or a larger co-production.

Sony will then repitch the project to the broadcast nets — and CBS remains a potential home.

“We believe we have a viable high concept in ‘The Kingdom,'” Van Amburg said. “We’ve got a pretty good track record at Sony; when we hit a roadblock at one network, we figure out a way to have success find us.”

Jordan’s credits include “Hustle” and the U.K. hit “Life on Mars,” which is being adapted for U.S. auds at ABC.

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