NBC Picks up 'Crusoe' Pilot!
Post by: Sal
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Watch out, "Lost" and "Survivor": NBC is bringing the original desert island castaway to primetime.
NBC has picked up "Robinson Crusoe," a drama series based on Daniel Defoe's classic novel, with a 13-episode order.
"Crusoe" reportedly came out of an unorthodox brainstorming idea of NBC's new chief Ben Silverman, who had asked his development team to generate a list of the most engaging stories ever told -- everything from "The Last of the Mohicans" to "Sleeping Beauty." "Crusoe" was at the top of that list. Also high on it and under serious consideration at the network are the tales of David and Goliath and of Jekyll and Hyde, sources said.
"Crusoe" will be produced by Universal Media Services and Power, the leading European producer of high-end TV movies and miniseries. Power said the deal marks the first time in 45 years that a scripted series for a U.S. broadcast network is produced by a British company.
The budget for the 13-episode series is said to be about $35 million. NBC/UMS' portion is estimated at about $10 million, for which NBC gets domestic rights to "Crusoe."
Power, which will shoulder the rest of the cost, gets international distribution rights.
The deal gives NBC a series for a little more than the price of a high-end drama pilot. (The two-hour "Lost" pilot reportedly cost $10 million-$12 million.)
"It gives us a building block and an opportunity to do year-round programming and take risk with alternative formats," Silverman said.
While "Crusoe" will be "efficiently produced," he said, it still will have the look and production values of a high-end drama.
"Crusoe" follows a new business model NBC introduced last week with the anthology series "Fear Itself," which was also picked up with a 13-episode order at a reduced license fee. By committing to more episodes upfront and handing international rights to its outside producing partner upfront, NBC gets to do big-budget drama series for fraction of the cost.
While "Fear" is targeted for summer, NBC plans to launch "Crusoe" in-season -- this fall or midseason 2009, depending on whether there will be an actors strike.
Strike jitters certainly are a factor in NBC's recent series spree. The network ordered three drama series -- "Crusoe," "Fear" and Tom Fontana's "The Philanthropist" -- in the past week.
"Crusoe" will be an "adrenaline-charged version" of the 1719 novel with a contemporary feel and voice, including a 21st century take on race relations, but it will be a period drama, taking place in the 17th century when the book is set.
"It's part 'MacGyver,' part contemporary morality tale about race and personal discovery, part comedy and part 'Castaway' meets 'Survivor,' " Silverman said.