'Empire' creator deals two projects

Tom Wheeler sets high-concept dramas at Fox, NBC

Writer-producer Tom Wheeler has set up a pair of high-concept drama projects at Fox and NBC.

Both have landed script commitments with penalty.

This is the second consecutive busy development season for "Empire" creator Wheeler, who last year landed a pilot order from ABC for the fantasy drama "Captain Cook's Extraordinary Atlas," which was in serious contention for a series pickup.

With his new projects, Wheeler is staying in the family- adventure genre, which he also is tackling on the feature side with two scripts he is writing: the "Shrek" spinoff "Puss in Boots" and "Cutlass Island."

"I have two big, event-style series that can bring the whole family to television, the equivalent of summer four-quadrant movies," Wheeler said. "Tele¬vision is so fragmented these days; I just want one great show that has something great for everyone."

The Fox project, "The Mysteries of Oak Island," is produced by Warner Bros. TV, the studio Wheeler worked with on "Captain Cook." It is set on Oak Island, a privately owned isle off the coast of Nova Scotia known for numerous quests to find treasure believed to be buried there.

"The show is about a single mom and her two children who inherit a 200-year-old lighthouse on this mysterious island," Wheeler said. "It's like mixing 'Romancing the Stone' and 'What Lies Beneath' with a little bit of 'The Goonies' thrown in. It's a family adventure but also about the adventure of being a family."

"The Cape" at NBC hails from UMS and executive producers Lloyd Braun -- who, as a top executive at ABC, gave Wheeler his first TV break with "Empire" -- and Gail Berman.

It centers on a former cop framed for a crime he didn't commit who becomes the Cape, a masked hero, to clear his name and reunite with his son.

"I always wanted to write a comic book, and I'm going to try to do it in a pilot form," the WME-repped Wheeler said.

Set in Jefferson City -- a Los Angeles-type city where corrupt private industries are taking over everything -- the project will be lighter in tone, in the vein of "Spider-Man" and "Iron Man," Wheeler said.
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