'L.A.'s Finest,' Starring Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba, a Go at Charter

LA's Finest - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of Sony TV

It's official: Bad Boys spinoff L.A.'s Finest, starring Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union, is going to be Charter Communications' first scripted series.  

Charter and producers Sony Pictures Television on Tuesday announced that the drama, originally developed and passed over at NBC, has been picked up to series with a 13-episode order for a 2019 premiere on Spectrum's platform. Additionally, Pam Veasey has joined the series as executive producer and co-showrunner alongside co-creators/co-showrunners Brandon Margolis and Brandon Sonnier.

Charter has been actively in the market for scripted originals after hiring former NBC and Chernin Entertainment exec Katherine Pope at the beginning of the year. Conversations between Charter and Sony for L.A.'s Finest started almost immediately after NBC passed on the drama. Budget concerns were said to be an initial obstacle as L.A.'s Finest is charter's first scripted offering.

“Charter is excited to partner with top producers Sony, [Jerry] Bruckheimer and the rest of the incredible team behind and in front of the camera on our first Spectrum Original Content endeavor,” said Pope, senior vp and head of originals at Charter Communications. “Our content partnerships offer us a great opportunity to provide Spectrum customers with the dynamic, authentic and unique programming that drives value for their Spectrum subscription."

L.A.'s Finest follows Syd Burnett (Union), last seen in Miami taking down a drug cartel, who has left her complicated past behind to become an LAPD detective. Paired with a new partner, Nancy McKenna (Alba), a working mom with an equally complex past, Syd is pushed to examine whether her unapologetic lifestyle might be masking a greater personal secret. These two women don’t agree on much, but they find common ground when it comes to taking on the most dangerous criminals in Los Angeles in this character-driven drama.

The project hails from Jerry Bruckheimer and writers Margolis and Sonnier. The show is based on Union's Syd Burnett character from Bad Boys II.

L.A.'s Finest was considered the biggest slam-dunk of the recently wrapped broadcast pilot season given its built-in premise, star and producing team, which included the feature film franchise's Bruckheimer. Union also personally recruited Alba — who hadn't done TV in years — to be her co-star. The drama landed at NBC with a sizable penalty and was among the network's first pilot pickups. 

Sources note that it was NBC's former president of entertainment Jennifer Salke who bought L.A.'s Finest when she was at the network, but given her move to run Amazon Studios, the project lost its champion. Sources also note that Sony TV attempted to package the series with other pilots and veteran series in an attempt to make one massive deal with NBC that also included a third season for recently canceled Timeless. That did not happen, and Sony wound up only with a renewal for The Blacklist after initially wanting a two-season pickup for the James Spader starrer. Salke, meanwhile, is eyeing Sony's Norman Lear passion project Guess Who Died after NBC also passed on the comedy.

"Charter has a strong passion for the project and we could not be more excited. Immediately we knew this innovative new platform was absolutely the right home for L.A.’s Finest," said Sony Pictures Television president Jeff Frost.

Charter, meanwhile, in January hired Pope to head original content and overee the cable giant's new effort to create its own scripted programming. The company previously announced partnerships with AMC and Viacom, with Pope overseeing those and other forthcoming relationships dedicated to a slate of original shows on its own platform as the cable operator attempts to retain subscribers in an era of cord-cutting. Charter's model is similar to how DirecTV launched into scripted originals. Charter will be first to air content like L.A.'s Finest before it moves to other platforms. (DirecTV originally revived Friday Night Lights and aired the final two seasons before its premiere on NBC, for example.) It's unclear what other platforms will land L.A.'s Finest.

L.A.'s Finest becomes the latest series to jump networks in an upfronts season that saw NBC rescue Brooklyn Nine-Nine after Fox's cancellation and Fox revive ABC's Last Man Standing. Key to both deals was the fact that the respective networks' studio counterpart owned each series.

Veasey (CSI: NY), Sonnier, Margolis, Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman, KristieAnne Reed, Jeff Gaspin, Jeff Morrone, Doug Belgrad, Union, Alba and Anton Cropper are executive producing, with Cropper having directed the pilot. L.A.'s Finest hails from Sony, Jerry Bruckheimer TV, Primary Wave and 2.0 Entertainment. Ernie Hudson, Zack Gilford, Duane Martin and Ryan McPartlin co-star.