'Nancy Drew' Spinoff 'Tom Swift' in the Works at The CW

Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage
David Livingston/Getty Images

The CW is turning Nancy Drew into a franchise.

The network is developing a spinoff, Tom Swift, set to air as a backdoor pilot in the drama's forthcoming sophomore season.

Based on the book series of the same name, Tom Swift will follow the Black, gay, billionaire inventor who is thrust into a world of sci-fi conspiracy after the disappearance of his father. Tom takes to the road on a quest to unravel the truth, leaving behind the comforts of his usual moneyed lifestyle, all while fighting to stay one step ahead of an Illuminati-scale group hell-bent on stopping him.

The spinoff will be overseen by Nancy Drew exec producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage and their Fake Empire banner. Melinda Hsu Taylor and Noga Landau, showrunner and co-creator of The CW's Nancy Drew, co-created the spinoff with Empire grad Cameron Johnson. The trio will write and exec produce the drama, which is currently in the early development stages. Fake Empire's Schwartz, Savage and Lis Rowinski will also exec produce Tom Swift. The potential series is produced by CBS Studios, where Fake Empire has a broadcast-only overall deal.

In addition to the script for a spinoff, the character of Tom Swift (which has yet to be cast) will appear in an upcoming episode of Nancy Drew's second season. The plan is to have the character crash into one of Nancy's (Kennedy McMann) investigations — an event that she interprets as supernatural and one that he believes to be cosmically paranormal.

Tom Swift, like Nancy Drew, is based on the book series from Stratemeyer Syndicate, the publisher behind the Hardy Boys and Bobbsey Twins novels. The CW's take is the latest effort to bring Tom Swift to screens. A TV take was filmed in 1958 starring Gary Vinson but the pilot was never broadcast. A movie was planned in 1968, with director Gene Kelly attached, but dropped a year later. Another pilot was written in 1977 by Glen A. Larson that was poised to be combined with a Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Dana Girls series but the properties were eventually formed into one larger series. Willie Aames also starred as Swift in 1983 in a TV special that flopped for ABC.

Hsu Taylor, repped by attorney Patti Felker, serves as showrunner on Nancy Drew and is a veteran of another franchise at The CW, The Vampire Diaries. Landau co-created Nancy Drew alongside Schwartz and Savage and is repped by manager Adam Marshall and attorney Jeff Frankel. Johnson is fresh off a story editor gig on Fox's Empire and is developing White People Problems for a streaming service. He's repped by Artists First and attorney Kim Stenton.

Fake Empire continues to be a prolific production company for The CW and has Nancy Drew and the fourth season of Dynasty coming. Schwartz and Savage are also readying a new update on Gossip Girl for streamer HBO Max and recently had the final season of Marvel's Runaways and limited series Looking for Alaska at Hulu. The longtime collaborators who met while working on The O.C. also have a second overall deal and are developing streaming projects for Apple. The duo are also rumored to be readying a Starfleet Academy series for CBS All Access. Schwartz is with manager Mikkel Bondesen; the duo is both with attorney Joel McKuin.

News of Nancy Drew's expansion efforts arrives as The CW has become defined by its successful franchises, including the Arrow-verse of DC Comics dramas from Greg Berlanti. The Mark Pedowitz-run broadcaster — a joint venture between CBS Studios and Warner Bros. TV — last season had a Riverdale spinoff and has attempted to grow Supernatural into several other offshoots. A spinoff of The 100, which recently ended its run, is also in development.