August 21, 2013 12:00pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
CW Developing 'Fame'-Like Drama From Debbie Allen
The CW is looking for a shot at Fame.
The youth-skewing network has picked up a script for an untitled drama from executive producers Sam Haskell and Fame star Debbie Allen, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Unlike the 1982-87 NBC/syndicated series, which was set in New York, The CW's entry takes place at a Los Angeles-area performing arts school. Matt Witten (House) will pen the script and executive produce alongside Haskell and Allen via Magnolia Hill Entertainment and Warner Bros. Television.
The project marks the latest in the push to bring Fame back to TV. Nearly a year ago to the date, American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe teamed with MGM Television to reimagine Fame for the small screen with a more contemporary take on the 1980 MGM film and subsequent series that helped catapult Allen to stardom.
Fame starred Allen as a tough dance instructor at the performing arts school in the series that chronicled the personal and professional lives and struggles of its aspiring actors, musicians, dancers and comedians, among others.
This marks Allen's latest connection to Fame. In 2003, she hosted an NBC reality series featuring 24 hand-picked singer-dancers competing for a recording contract that was based on an Italian format.
On the feature side, MGM attempted to revive Fame in 2009 with a Kevin Tancharoen-directed entry starring Allen, Kelsey Grammer, Bebe Neuwirth and Megan Mullally that ultimately proved a flop for the studio, with a domestic box-office take of $22 million.
The CW entry comes as music-themed series continue to generate buzz, with Fox's Glee heading into its fifth season on Fox and ABC's Nashville returning for its sophomore run in the fall. Both series continue to perform respectably ratings-wise as well as generate additional revenue streams from their music sales. (For its part, NBC's Smash was canceled in May after two seasons following a disastrous creative reboot.)
Witten's credits also include JAG, Supernatural, Medium and The Glades. He was also of the House team that earned an Emmy nomination in 2004 for best drama series. Allen's producing credits include features Amistad and the upcoming feature A Star for Rose. More recently, she's been a prolific TV director, helming episodes of Let's Stay Together, The Client List, Everybody Hates Chris, Girlfriends and Grey's Anatomy, where she also has a recurring role. Allen is repped by Paradigm. Witten is repped by ICM Partners and the Shuman Co.
Watch the opening credits for Fame below.