Slater spied for lead in NBC espionage drama

'Bourne' meets 'Jekyll' in suburbia

Christian Slater is coming to primetime.

Sources said NBC is close to handing out a series order to an untitled drama from writer-producer Jason Smilovic starring Slater in what would be the actor's first TV series.

The project — from Universal Media Studios, where Smilovic has an overall deal — originally was developed as a feature at Fox several years ago. It is described as "The Bourne Identity" meets "Jekyll & Hyde" and centers on a mild-mannered suburban dad (Slater) who learns that his alter ego is a spy.

NBC declined comment.

A series order for the Slater-Smilovic drama would be in line with NBC's new mandate to forgo producing expensive pilots by picking up more projects straight to series.

So far this development season, the network has taken that approach with the comedy "Kath & Kim" and drama "The Philanthropist" as well as the lower-license-fee internationally made "Robinson Crusoe," "Fear Itself" and "The Listener."

Slater had been courted for years to do a primetime series and had been on casting directors' wish lists every pilot season. But aside from guest arcs on NBC's "The West Wing" and ABC's "Alias," he had largely stayed on the TV sidelines until last spring, when he was attached to another NBC/UMS drama, "Dirty Little Secrets."

The project, from feature producer Armyan Bernstein, was put in active development at the network shortly before the management shakeup at NBC that brought in Ben Silverman and Teri Weinberg as the new top two programming executives.

Smilovic most recently served as executive producer on NBC's "Bionic Woman." He also created and executive produced the network's well received drama "Kidnapped" and was behind ABC's critically praised "Karen Sisco."

Slater and Smilovic are repped by CAA.