Lowry, Jackman swing with 'Blackpool'


"Huff" creator Bob Lowry and Hugh Jackman have teamed for "Viva Blackpool," a high-concept light drama project for CBS.

CBS snagged the project in spirited bidding with two other networks, giving it a hefty seven-figure put pilot commitment.

Based on the BBC's successful miniseries, "Viva Blackpool" is produced by Sony Pictures TV and BBC Worldwide Prods.

It tells the story of Ripley Holden, a sleazy but charismatic low-end casino owner whose dream is to cash in and open a five-star mega-resort on the Las Vegas Strip. Like the BBC series, the CBS version will have a murder mystery at its center and will feature the cast bursting into song-and-dance numbers.

Lowry is writing the script and is exec producing with BBC Worldwide's Paul Telegdy and the British series' creator Peter Bowker.

Jackman, who has deep roots in musical theater, will guest star in the pilot. He also is expected to executive produce alongside producing partner John Palermo through their Seed Prods.

The project is part of Seed's development deal at CBS through CBS Paramount Network TV. Pending the closing of Jackson's deal, CBS Par TV is expected to come on board as a co-producer.

Jackman and Palermo had been looking for a way to do a dramedy musical series for 18 months when CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler approached them with the idea for "Blackpool." They watched all six episodes of the British series in one sitting and decided immediately that this was the project they wanted to make their entry into television with.

"Blackpool" stems from Sony TV's first-look deal with BBC Worldwide and the studio's two-script deal with Lowry.

Jackman won a Tony for his starring role in the Broadway musical "The Boy From Oz." On the big screen, he will next appear in Chris Nolan's "The Prestige," which opens Friday, and "The Fountain." Next year he is set to star opposite Nicole Kidman in Baz Luhrmann's period drama for 20th Century Fox.

Seed Prods.' feature development slate includes the "X-Men" spinoff "Wolverine," "Rebound Guy" and "Fed X," all set up at Fox, and a remake of the classic musical "Carousel" for Fox 2000. The company is shooting "The Tourist," starring Ewan McGregor and Jackman, in New York.

Jackman is repped by Endeavor.

Lowry created and executive produced the critically praised drama "Huff" for Showtime.

His series credits also include Lifetime's "Any Day Now" and NBC's "Profiler."

He is repped by ICM, which also reps BBC Worldwide.