Last spring was something of a madhouse for Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci’s K/O Paper Products banner, with two drama pilots shooting simultaneously on different coasts, the El Rey Network drama “Matador” launching production in Van Nuys and development for season 2 of Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow” well under way.
Aaron Baiers, K/O’s director of TV development, rose to the occasion by proving to be a very capable on-the-ground producer in Charleston, S.C., for the CW pilot “Identity.” That performance has earned him a promotion to veepee under K/O TV chief Heather Kadin.
During the CW pilot shoot “people from the network and studio kept commenting to us on how amazing Aaron was,” Kadin told Variety. “I could tell because (director) Gary Fleder and executives from the CW and studio weren’t calling me because they were getting what they needed from our executive on the ground. In my mind that’s what makes a VP as opposed to a director.”
The stripes for Baiers, who joined K/O in 2012 after two years in the drama department at 20th Century Fox TV, come as K/O juggles an expanding network slate and eyes a few more cable projects.
K/O has a drama project percolating at TNT, and Kurtzman and Orci are looking to adapt one of their past feature projects as a cable TV series (Kadin wouldn’t elaborate on the title, saying it’s too early in the development process).
In the fall, K/O has the high-class problem of having two big drama series launching on Sept. 22 — the cyber-crime procedural “Scorpion” on CBS and the second season of “Sleepy Hollow” on Fox.
Season one of “Sleepy Hollow” (pictured) was the highlight of an otherwise disappointing 2013-14 season for Fox, so the pressure is on to keep the audience engaged in round two. “Scorpion” is equally important to K/O as it is the first new drama fielded for CBS since K/O set up shop at the Eye under a three-year overall deal with CBS TV Studios last July. K/O also has its CBS workhorse “Hawaii 5-0” entering season five on Sept. 26.
“Matador,” for Robert Rodriguez’s startup cabler, is a caper drama revolving around a soccer star, played by Gabriel Luna, who doubles as a spy. The 13-episode straight to series order has been a particular passion project for Orci, who co-created the series with his cousin, Andrew Orci, and showrunners Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie. Rodriguez directed the first episode, which bows July 15.
With so much active series production, Kadin said K/O will likely limit its broadcast network development in the coming cycle to “a couple” of projects. Kurtzman and Orci recently made the decision to become solo acts when it comes to pursuing feature projects, but their TV partnership has only been strengthened by the growing production slate. That’s another reason why K/O will be careful not to do too much for the 2015-16 development derby.
“The goal is not for us to do a lot; the goal is to do our shows well,” Kadin says. “We try not to develop a lot any way, and that’s why we’re fortunate enough to have (Kurtzman and Orci) incredibly involved in every aspect of the pilot process, and that’s why we still have their voice in all of our series.”