The Greg Berlanti-produced series was originally was developed at Fox earlier this season, landing a hefty pilot production commitment from the get-go. Insiders tell Variety the network passed on the project earlier this week, so then it moved to the CW.
Should “Black Lightning” go to series, it would mark the fifth DC superhero show from Berlanti at the CW, which is currently home to “Arrow,” “The Flash,” DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” and Supergirl,” which have all been renewed for the 2017-2018 season.
If “Black Lightning” is greenlit for 2017-2018, sources close to the network explain that the shows would be staggered throughout the year, rather than scheduling five separate nights of superhero programming.
“Black Lightning” is the second Berlanti Productions series to move from another network to the CW. After “Supergirl’s” first season struggled to keep a big enough audience for CBS’ standards, the younger-skewing sister network picked it up for its sophomore season. While superhero programming may not be the best fit for the Big Four, the CW has had great success with its four series, including “Supergirl,” which is performing strongly in its second season at the CW, only behind the net’s top show, “The Flash.”
Back at the Television Critics Association press tour last summer, CW chief Mark Pedowitz was asked about the possibility of another superhero show. He said: “At the moment, we were only expecting to have four this season…At this time there’s no real discussions about any other superhero characters, but one of the things about the Arrowverse…we get to see all these characters. Now, if someone pops, then you reexamine the situation, but at this time, there are no discussions with anybody else.”
Based on the DC character, “Black Lightning” is about Jefferson Pierce. He made his choice: he hung up the suit and his secret identity years ago, but with a daughter hell-bent on justice and a star student being recruited by a local gang, he’ll be pulled back into the fight as the wanted vigilante and DC legend, Black Lightning.
The original comic character was created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden. The TV pilot was written by Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil, who will serve as executive producers with Berlanti and producing partner Sarah Schechter. Berlanti Prods. and Akil Prods. are producing with Warner Bros. Television.