Longtime showrunners Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters have ramped up development through their pod deal at ABC Studios. The duo’s Fazekas & Butters production company has sold two hourlong projects to ABC — one written by them with a Disney theme parks tie-in and one penned by filmmaker Nisha Ganatra. The company also has set up projects at Freeform and Amazon with writers Nick Towne and Heath Corson and is developing a series based on Wesley Chu’s Tao science fiction book series.
Details about the untitled ABC drama written by Fazekas and Butters (aka Hyperion) are being kept under wraps, but it is based on the Disney theme park mythology. The duo is executive producing with former Disney executive-turned-producer Jason Reed.
In the first season since launching their Fazekas & Butters company as a full-fledged pod based at ABC Studios, Fazekas and Butters landed a pilot order at ABC for “the Death of Eva Sofia Valdez”, written by Cuban-American playwright Charise Castro Smith and starring Gina Torres. The drama, as well as the new projects by Ganatra, Towne and Corson, are part of the efforts by Fazekas, Butters and their development executive Robert Atwood to build F&B as a writer-friendly pod focused on finding and shepherding fresh new voices. In their second year as a pod, Fazekas and Butters also concentrated on expanding into cable and streaming through ABC Studios’ division ABC Signature, which produces the Freeform and Amazon projects. All F&B projects are executive produced by Fazekas and Butters, with Atwood serving as producer.
The untitled Nisha Ganatra dramedy, which she is writing, executive producing and set to direct, explores themes of identity, the immigrant experience and the search for love through a multi-generational Indian American family.
ABC Studios has optioned the rights to Chu’s Tao book series for F&B. The TV series, titled “The Lives of Tao” after the first book in the trilogy, is written and executive produced by Chris Dingess. The project, which will be taken out to broadcast network shortly, follows Roen Tan, an out-of-shape, rudderless IT guy who, when inhabited by a centuries-old alien named Tao, becomes a secret agent in order to save humanity from warring alien factions. Chu serves as consultant.
The Problem with Mel Purview, which is in development at Amazon, was written on spec by Nick Towne, who serves as co-executive producer. The darkly humorous contemporary noir starts with a kidnapping and a semi-absent father named Mel Purview who is sucked into the highly organized criminal underworld of modern Los Angeles as he is forced by kidnappers to lead a secretive double life.
The untitled Heath Corson project, in development at Freeform, is written/co-executive produced by Corson. It follows the four Sage children, who stumbled into the magical world of Arcana 14 years ago. Now, reunited after the mysterious death of their father, the Sages must put aside their differences and come together as a family in order to confront an invasion of our world from Arcana, eager to make the siblings answer for the sins of the past.
Fazekas and Butters recently served as executive producers/showrunners on ABC/ABC Studios’ Marvel’s Agent Carter and Resurrection. They previously created the cult CW series Reaper and served as writer-producers on Law & Order: SVU for five seasons. The duo is repped by ICM Partners and Michael Gendler. Last season, Ganatra landed a put pilot commitment at NBC about another semi-autobiographical project, comedy Pre-Madonna, which she executive produced with Amy Poehler.
Ganatra was working as an indie filmmaker — her first movie was the 1999 Chutney Popcorn — when she was brought in as a main director alongside creator Jill Soloway and a consulting producer on the first season of Amazon’s Transparent. That launched a career as a TV director for Ganatra, who helmed all 10 episodes of Audience’s You Me Her and has directed episodes of a slew of other series, including Better Things, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Mindy Project, Mr. Robot and Shameless. She is repped by ICM Partners.
Dingess is repped by UTA. Towne is repped by Paradigm and 3 Arts. Corson is repped by ICM Partners and Circle of Confusion. Chu is with Angela Cheng Caplan.
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