FtvS, McQuarrie team for 'Persons'

Developing TV series for U.S., Mexico markets

Fox TV Studios is gearing up production on "Persons Unknown," the first TV series from an unusual TV suspect: Oscar winner Christopher McQuarrie.

FtvS has partnered with Mexican media giant Televisa to make 13 episodes of "Persons," which will start filming Oct. 27 in Mexico for the U.S. marketplace. Additionally, Televisa will air "Persons" in Mexico, and FtvS also is negotiating with a leading Italian broadcaster.

"Persons" is executive produced by "The Usual Suspects" writer McQuarrie, his wife and producing partner Heather McQuarrie and the series' showrunner Remi Aubuchon.

"Persons" is a mystery drama about seven strangers -- four of them played by Alan Ruck, Chadwick Boseman, Gerald Kyd and Kate Lang Johnson -- who wake up in a deserted town with no recollection of how they got there, only to realize that they are watched by omnipresent security cameras and that there is no escape. To survive, they must come together to solve the puzzle of their lives.

"It's a mystery, but it's not at all surreal," FtvS executive vp programming David Madden said. "This is a real world."

Decors for the fictional town are being built in Ajusco near Mexico City, where "Persons" will be filmed.

Madden calls "Persons" a "personal obsession of his." It first was developed five years ago when it was set up at Fox, then was redeveloped for Sci Fi Channel.

Last summer, Madden took the script to FtvS' newly appointed president Emiliano Calemzuk, who was looking to introduce a new production model in which projects go straight to series and are produced independently in foreign countries with international broadcast partners.

"Persons" is the second series to enter production under the new business template, following "Mental," now filming in Bogota, Colombia.

As with "Mental," a medical drama starring Chris Vance and Annabella Sciorra, "Persons" will be brought to U.S. networks with several episodes in the can. ("Mental" is expected to be taken out shortly.)

The plan so far has "exceeded expectation," Calemzuk said, with a third internationally filmed series in preproduction and several new scripts being shopped to foreign broadcasters.

"Persons" marks Televisa's first English-language scripted series for the U.S. market.

"We are eager to take advantage of our infrastructure in Mexico to deliver the kind of quality we know is demanded by U.S. audiences," Televisa corporate vp television Jose Baston said.

Aubuchon came aboard "Persons" in October, intrigued by the FtvS production model and fascinated by McQuarrie's script. "Everything that everybody thinks it is, it isn't," Aubuchon said of the project.

With a peeling-of-the-onion mystery playing out over 13 episodes and beyond, Aubuchon and his four-person writing team were given plenty of lead time to tinker with the plot lines. "Persons" is heading into production with 10 completed scripts, "an amazing luxury and joy" compared with the time crunch on broadcast series, said Aubuchon, who created NBC's "The Lyon's Den."

Ruck and Johnson are repped by Innovative. Boseman is with Michael Greene & Associates. Kyd is repped by SDB Partners.