'Nancy Drew' TV Series In the Works at CBS

Nancy Drew - H 2015
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

CBS is bringing iconic detective Nancy Drew back to the small screen.

The network is teaming with Grey's Anatomy alums Joan Rater and Tony Phelan for a Nancy Drew TV series, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.  

The potential series is described as a contemporary take on the character from the iconic book series. Now in her '30s, Nancy is a detective for the NYPD where she investigates and solves crimes using her uncanny observational skills, all while navigating the complexities of life in a modern world. CBS Television Studios-based Dan Jinks will exec produce alongside Rater and Phelan, who also have deals with the studio.

The news comes as CBS is poised to launch DC Comics take Supergirl as the network, under chief Nina Tassler, has made female empowerment a high priority.

Nancy Drew first appeared in books in 1930 and was originally created by Edward Stratemeyer. The beloved books have been ghostwritten by a series of authors and published under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. The character has evolved in the decades since, though the original series — Nancy Drew Mystery Stories — ran from 1930-2003. The franchise has included spinoff series including Nancy Drew Files and collaborations with The Hardy Boys.

The character spawned a TV series — The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries — that ran for three seasons on ABC in the late 1970s starring Pamela Sue Martin (and later Janet Louise Johnson) as well as Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevens. The series was an anthology of sorts, with some episodes focusing only on Nancy Drew, with amateur sleuth siblings Frank and Joe Hardy. The series was produced by Glen A. Larson Productions and distributed by Universal Television. (Larson passed away in November.)

The 1970s ABC series was the first to air with Nancy though CBS and producers Desilu (I Love Lucy) produced a pilot starring Roberta Shore that was based on the movies from the 1930s that ultimately never aired after author Harriet Adams (aka Keene) objected. Several other attempts to launch a TV series have been made in the decades since, including a failed Canadian series in the late '80s and '90s which was canceled midway through its first season following poor ratings. More recently, ABC aired a Nancy Drew TV movie starring Maggie Lawson that was slated to run as a back-door pilot. Despite ordering additional scripts, the project did not move forward.

On the film side, Bonita Granville played Nancy in four Warner Bros. films in the '30s and, more recently, Emma Roberts (Scream Queens) played the famed sleuth in a 2007 movie from the same studio.  

Historically, the character is a feminist icon whose cultural impact has been a great one and has influenced everyone from Sandra Day O'Connor, Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Barbra Streisand and more.

Nancy Drew arrives as broadcast networks continue to look for intellectual property and proven brands in a bid to cut through the increasing clutter. For its part, CBS is also rebooting MacGyver, Training Day and H.G. Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau; Fox is readying Behind Enemy Lines; The CW is prepping The Notebook and Friday the 13th; and studio 20th Century Fox Television is shopping a reboot of The A-Team, while Norman Lear is rebooting One Day at a Time (though there is no network yet attached). For its part, Fox has revivals of The X-Files and Prison Break in the works after recently rebooting 24.

This season's reboots and revivals have debuted to mixed reactions. Fox's Minority Report has faltered in its early episodes; NBC's Heroes had a modest debut, while CBS found early success with Bradley Cooper's Limitless follow-up. Additional revival series based on Rush Hour (CBS) and Uncle Buck (ABC) are due later this season.

The Nancy deal expands CBS' relationship with Phelan and Rater, who are behind drama pilot Doubt — which is undergoing a retooling with Katherine Heigl attached to star in a new pilot as CBS hopes to bring the buzzy entry to series.