'Philanthropist' aid?

NBC eyes o'seas partner on new drama to split costs

NBC's new series "The Philanthropist" could be going international. The Peacock is looking for an international partner to shoulder half the cost of the midseason drama, about a renegade billionaire who uses his wealth, connections and power to help people in need no matter the risks or costs.

That would make "Philanthropist" the latest in a string of international co-productions at the broadcast networks to embrace this model. NBC kicked off the trend last fall with "Crusoe," which is produced and internationally distributed by U.K.'s Power Entertainment, and followed that with "Merlin," which is shared with the BBC, and "The Listener," with CTV.

Bringing on an international partner also would help implement an idea that NBC brass is said to be exploring: filming different episodes of "Philanthropist" on location in different countries. Although that has been done successfully on the unscripted side with CBS' "The Amazing Race," it is far more challenging on a scripted series logistically and financially, and an international co-producer would come in handy.

James Purefoy is in talks for the lead in "Philanthropist," which is being shepherded by David Eick following the April departure of Tom Fontana.

Peter Horton is set to direct the pilot for the UMS-produced series, which is slated to premiere midseason in the Monday 10 p.m. slot. (James Hibberd and Nellie Andreeva)
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