(I imagine you could probably get decent odds on a bet as to whether Norman Lear even knows who Criss Angel is.)
Norman Lear is a bona fide TV legend, having created or produced such shows as All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times and Maude — heck, he even consulted on episodes of South Park a few years ago. NBC co-chairman Ben Silverman calls him "an idol of mine" and says luring him back to TV "is the fulfillment of a personal dream."
He’ll be working with writer Nina Colman on an hour-long dramedy about a woman who goes back to work after the death of her husband and finds herself in a rivalry with his former business partner. Silverman’s former company, Reveille, and Lear’s Act III Productions are among the producers.
Angel and renowned mentalist Uri Geller are teaming up for a show called Phenomenon — no relation to the 1996 John Travolta movie — in which the two will team up to search for, no kidding, "the next great mentalist." It’s based on a hit Israeli series called The Successor, and Silverman believes it has breakout potential.
Per the NBC announcement of the show, contestants "must compete each week to demonstrate a wide spectrum of mystifying talents on a panel of weekly celebrity guests who participate along with a studio audience." So brush up on that spoon-bending.
Among the other development projects the network highlighted Monday are Backyards & Bullets, which was called The Watch when it went through the pilot process earlier this year. It’s about a once-idyllic suburban town where the neighborhood watch has taken justice into its own hands, causing headaches for the police department’s new chief detective.
On the same front, Las Vegas creator Gary Scott Thompson has signed on to adapt the Colombian series Sin Tetas No Hay Paraiso, about a woman who sees a new pair of breasts as her path to a better life. Silverman says Thompson has come up with a "Sabrina-like take" on the material that he’s jazzed about. The American version of another import, the Aussie comedy Kath & Kim, will be written by King of Queens veteran Michelle Nader.
Finally, though Monday was all about the new guys, Silverman and his co-chairman Marc Graboff, someone did bring up former NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly (who last week took the same job at FOX). Silverman demurred, but Graboff took pains to explain that Reilly wasn’t fired.
"What happened was when Ben became available, about three months after we made Kevin’s new deal, we jumped at the opportunity to bring Ben on board to the company," Graboff explained. "We thought he would be able to be the person that was going to take us to the next level. Kevin, when that happened, realized or determined, frankly, that there was just no role for him at the company and decided to move on."