'Criminal Minds' Writer Developing Cop Drama 'Hard Knocks' at Fox

Virgil Williams will also exec produce the Universal TV hourlong along with Debra Martin Chase.
Left, Getty Images; Right, courtesy of CAA

Virgil Williams is back on the beat.

The longtime Criminal Minds writer and co-executive producer is developing a police procedural at Fox, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Hard Knocks, which has landed a script plus penalty commitment, centers on a brilliant male ex-con turned university criminology professor and a tenacious female detective who team up to tackle crime by combining unique insight into the criminal mind and superior investigative skills.

Williams is writing the hourlong and will exec produce with Debra Martin Chase through her Martin Chase Productions shingle. Universal TV, where both producers have overall deals, will produce.

This marks the first sale since Williams signed a two-year pact at Universal in June. Before that, Williams spent six years on CBS' Criminal Minds, during which he contributed to nearly 140 episodes. The project brings him back to Fox, where he wrote for dramas 24 and The Chicago Code.

The sale also comes as Williams' film career is heating up. He co-wrote the Sundance Film Festival hit Mudbound, which landed at Netflix for $12.5 million after a bidding war. The World War II drama, which marks his feature debut, will be released next month and is expected to be an awards season contender. The film's cast already received the best ensemble prize at the Gotham Awards.

Martin Chase has produced films including Courage Under Fire, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants films and The Princess Diaries films. On the TV side, her credits include the Lifetime drama 1-800-Missing and BET's Zoe Ever After. Hard Knocks is the second sale of the development season for Martin Chase, who is also exec producing a reboot of Get Christie Love with Power showrunner Courtney Kemp and Vin Diesel that landed at ABC with a pilot production commitment.

Williams is repped by CAA, The Shuman Co. and attorneys Eric Sherman and P.J. Shapiro. Martin Chase is repped by CAA and attorneys Nina Shaw and Laurie Megery.