Nov. 02, 2004
'Over There' is here as series for FX, Bochco
By Andrew WallensteinFX has ordered a pilot from Steven Bochco Prods. for a series set on the front lines of the conflict in Iraq.
"Over There" is an ensemble drama that will explore the lives of a select group of Army soldiers in combat as well as the families they left behind. Bochco will serve as executive producer with Chris Gerolmo ("Mississippi Burning"), who will direct the pilot he wrote.
The pilot marks the first collaboration between Bochco, the veteran producer of gritty series like "Hill Street Blues," and 20th Century Fox Television since he sued 20th several years ago over the syndication sale of "NYPD Blue."
The series was originally set up at Paramount Network Television, where Bochco has an overall production deal, but the deal fell apart there because of concerns about economic issues surrounding the project, particularly its prospects for foreign sales, sources said.
For FX president of entertainment John Landgraf, "Over There" represents the realization of a goal he set out to achieve when he joined the channel in January.
"The biggest arena I was interested in producing was a contemporary drama about war," he said. "When I got here, I knew who I wanted to do it with."
Landgraf envisions "Over There" not being pro- or anti-war but admitted that the show won't please everyone. "There's likely to be some controversy because the war is such a partisan football from both sides," he said.
Added Bochco in a statement, "Chris and I are very excited to be doing this show with Fox for FX."
"Over There" also marks Bochco's first project for basic cable. FX, which also is considering the drama pilot "Thief," starring Andre Braugher, has ordered four additional scripts of "Over There."
FX discussed producing a series on the Iraqi conflict with Bochco, who recruited Gerolmo to conceive story ideas. The network ordered a pilot shortly after receiving the script but had to backtrack when Paramount pulled out.
"They were gracious enough to give it back to Bochco," Landgraf said. "We let (20th) know the project was available, and they were phenomenal about stepping in."
Said 20th TV president Dana Walden: "Steven Bochco is one of television's true geniuses, and it's hard to imagine anyone else who could tackle this kind of provocative and challenging subject matter in such an honest and thoughtful way."
The project moved from Paramount to 20th after the recent shake-up at the studio that resulted in the exit of Paramount Television president Garry Hart and the elevation of former CBS executive David Stapf to president of the Paramount Network Television unit. Sources close to the situation said that the new regime was concerned about whether the project would be economically viable for the studio over the long term.
Paramount has produced several Bochco shows, including an ABC series set for midseason, "Blind Justice." Bochco's rich production deal with the studio is set to expire at the end of the year. Sources stressed that the new regime at Paramount Network TV has good relations with Bochco Prods. and has high hopes for "Blind Justice," set to premiere next year after Bochco's "NYPD Blue" winds up its 12-season run on ABC.
Bochco settled his legal dispute with 20th in 2001 after charging that the studio had failed to sell "Blue" at fair-market value because 20th made the deal with FX, which are both owned by News Corp.
"Over There" is expected to begin shooting in January with a budget said to be on par for what FX allots to the new series "Rescue Me." Locations have not been chosen, but battle scenes might be shot in Mexico, while scenes from home are expected to film in Los Angeles. Casting begins next week.
Bochco is repped by CAA. Gerolmo is repped by Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann Agency.