NBC and Sony Television have been in long negotiations over the project, which remains a favorite of both the network and the studio. Sources close to the project say that all execs involved want to see “Cruel” go all the way, but NBC and Sony haven’t yet come to an agreement over stacking rights or ownership.
On a conference call on Sunday with reporters, NBC entertainment chair Bob Greenblatt acknowledged that talks were still ongoing. “We’re still discussing it,” he said. “It falls under the heading of embarrassment of riches. It’s a bit of an outlier for us. There’s no other show like it (on our schedule). We like it, we’re still discussing it and we’re trying to figure it out.”
As of now, NBC has an even split of shows from its in-house arm, Universal Television, vs. outside studios. This week, NBC greenlit four shows from Universal — “Great News,” “Marlon,” “Chicago Justice” and “Midnight, Texas,” which came as a surprise. Earlier this year, the network also gave a straight-to-series order to Universal’s “The Good Place” and “Emerald City.” Six shows are also coming from outside studios with Warner Bros. TV’s “Powerless” and “Trial & Error,” 20th Century Fox TV’s “This Is Us,” Sony TV’s “Timeless,” which has been a shoo-in for quite some time, and EuropaCorp’s “Taken,” which nabbed a straight-to-series order long ago. And then there’s “The Blacklist” spinoff, also from Sony, which just became official this morning.
NBC had been in separate negotiations with Sony over “Cruel Intentions” and “The Blacklist,” though a source says “Blacklist’s” pickup had no impact on “Cruel’s” ultimate fate. The Famke Janssen spinoff was always eyeing a series order, but the process was stalled until today (many of NBC’s pilots were picked up yesterday) because the network was pushing for large ownership over the project.
Late on Friday, insiders close to “Cruel” told Variety that the two parties decided not to make a decision before Upfronts, but plan to re-visit discussions after the week-long NYC presentations and are hopeful to settle on a summer 2017 debut — a time of year that could be perfect for a young, social-savvy show like “Cruel Intentions.”
The “Cruel” pilot tested well with a cliffhanger-heavy script and tremendous buzz for its new star Taylor John Smith, who’s playing the son of Ryan Phillippe’s late character, along with its headliner, Sarah Michelle Gellar.
If NBC ultimately passes on “Cruel Intentions,” it will surely be shopped around in search of a new home.