'Spartacus' Duo to Write Crime Drama for Starz

The Shadow Catcher by Hipolito Acosta - P 2013

The Shadow Catcher by Hipolito Acosta - P 2013

Starz is getting into the international drama business.

The premium cable network is developing Gringo, from Spartacus executive producers Aaron Helbing and Todd Helbing.

The drama is based on U.S. immigration officer Hipolito Acosta's nonfiction book The Shadow Catcher and will chronicle a Mexican-American Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent who infiltrates one of Mexico's most deadly drug- and human-smuggling cartels.

Brothers Aaron Helbing and Todd Helbing will pen the script, which will be executive produced by Bee Holder Productions' Steve Lee Jones (You Don't Know Jack).

Gringo provides a thrilling and uniquely personal look into international organized crime, never seen by the American public, from the viewpoint of a federal undercover agent on the front lines,” Starz managing director Carmi Zlotnik said Tuesday in a release announcing the news. “We are excited to work with this team to develop Gringo into what we think could make for incredibly compelling television.”

For Jones, the project comes after he recently founded the production company's TV division. They're currently in development on several projects, including a miniseries based on John DeLorean.

The Helbings' credits include Spartacus: War of the Damned, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena and Smallville. They're currently serving as supervising producers on Starz's upcoming Michael Bay pirate drama Black Sails, which has already been renewed for a second season ahead of its series premiere.

Acosta, who penned Shadow with Lisa Pulitzer, will serve as a consultant on Gringo. He's an expert on immigration laws, regulations, policy and procedures and has conducted extensive undercover enforcement operations both domestically and internationally.

The Helbing brothers are repped by CAA; Acosta is with the B.G. Dilworth Agency and Intellectual Property Group.

For Starz, the project comes as international fare continues to find its place on the small screen. FX's The Bridge, which chronicles a murder case involving both U.S. and Mexican authorities, was just renewed for a second season.

E-mail: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit