After battle, CBS gets key to 'Kingdom'


The broadcast networks went medieval over "The Kingdom," a Middle Ages drama set in Europe's world of castles, kings and typhoid fever.

In the first fierce bidding war of the development season, which resembled the frenzy that surrounded "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" and "The Class" two years ago, CBS landed the Barry Sonnenfeld-directed project with a rich put pilot commitment.

The deal for the Sony Pictures TV-produced "Kingdom" carries a hefty penalty of about $2 million, sources said. CBS, which is said to have outbid NBC and Fox for the project, also has agreed to pay a $3.5 million-$4 million license fee for the pilot and a more than $1.5 million series license fee per episode.

CBS and SPT declined comment Tuesday on the financial aspects of the deal.

Written by "Runaway" creator Chad Hodge, "Kingdom" is described as a medieval "Entourage." It revolves around four guys, one of whom is crowned king and reluctantly takes the throne despite preferring drinking and sex to procession and war.

Costume dramas have had a rough time on broadcast television, but the genre is enjoying success on cable with Showtime's "The Tudors."

Sonnenfeld is coming off directing the pilot for the much buzzed-about new ABC/Warner Bros. TV drama series "Pushing Daisies." He also is attached to direct SPT's single-camera comedy pilot for Fox titled "Hackett," contingent upon his availability since the project is yet to get a start date.

Hodge and Sonnenfeld, who are under overall deals at SPT, are repped by CAA.

Sonnenfeld is additionally repped by attorney Melanie Cook. Hodge is managed by Liz Kenney and additionally repped by attorney Michael Fuller.