‘Strange City’ eyes TV series

Bill Haber, Tina Brown option female detective novel

Network execs are on the lookout for a good femme-led gumshoe drama. Bill Haber and Tina Brown think they’ve found their woman in author Laura Lippman’s Tess Monaghan character.

Haber’s Ostar Prods. has optioned “In a Strange City,” the sixth novel in Lippman’s series about Monaghan, an investigative journalist in Baltimore who becomes a private eye almost by accident after the newspaper she works for goes under. Feature scribe Jay Cocks (“Gangs of New York”) has been tapped to adapt the book. Haber intends to shop the project to network and cable buyers for next year’s development cycle.

Brown, co-founder and editor-in-chief of news website the Daily Beast, has already been working with Haber on a smallscreen adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s “I Am Charlotte Simmons” for HBO. She fell for the tough, no-nonsense Monaghan character as soon as Haber gave her the book.

“She’s an inspired creation,” Brown told Daily Variety. “It’s amusing and ingeniously plotted and very contemporary. It just cries to be a TV show.”

Haber noted the appetite among net buyers for femme franchise fare. ABC and CBS have several drama pilots in the works revolving around femme crime solvers. NBC is trying adapt the U.K. drama “Prime Suspect,” although casting struggles pushed the project out of contention this pilot season.

Haber hailed the setting and tone established by Lippman, a former journo who is married to “The Wire” and “Treme” boss David Simon, and called the Monaghan books “a very 21st century take” on detective fiction.

Haber is also exec producer of detective drama “Rizzoli and Isles,” starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander, that is set to bow on TNT later this year.

Separately, development of “Charlotte Simmons” is proceeding at HBO, where the project has been percolating for nearly two years. Haber and Brown recently recruited scribe Natalie Krinsky to work on the adaptation.

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