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Greg Berlanti has just scored his fourth pilot order of the season and his second at The CW.
The drama, written by The Game‘s Mara Brock Akil and her husband/producing partner, Salim Akil, landed at Fox in September following a multiple-network bidding war. Lightning becomes the latest Berlanti-produced comic book series to jump networks to The CW after Fox passed on Archie Comics take Riverdale and Supergirl moved from CBS for its sophomore season.
One of DC Comics’ first major African-American superheroes, Black Lightning was created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden and debuted in 1977. The hourlong drama will center on Jefferson Pierce, who hung up his suit and his secret identity years ago. However, with a daughter hell-bent on justice and a star student being recruited by a local gang, he’ll be pulled back into the fight as the wanted vigilante and DC legend Black Lightning.
The Akils, who will pen the script, will executive produce the drama alongside Berlanti and his Berlanti Productions topper Sarah Schechter. Black Lightning marks the first pilot pickup to come from the Akils‘ overall deal with Warner Bros. Television.
Sources say the move to The CW came as Fox is already home to two DC Comics dramas (Batman-themed Gotham and Lucifer). With those, as well as Marvel’s live-action X-Men drama and Seth MacFarlane’s hourlong space dramedy Orville, Fox opted to pass a formal pickup for Lightning, and producers WBTV — who supply half of The CW’s originals as a co-owner of the network — found it a familiar home.
Should Black Lightning move to series, it would be one of the first broadcast shows to feature an African-American superhero as its lead, joining Netflix Marvel drama Luke Cage. It also would join a 2017-2018 CW schedule that includes Berlanti’s previously renewed DC Comics dramas Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. (Riverdale, which debuted in January, remains on the bubble.)
Lightning is Berlanti’s fourth pilot order of the season and his second at The CW, joining the network’s Searchers; ABC’s Deception — in which he reteams with Blindspot creator Martin Gero — and his first comedy, Raised by Wolves.
Lightning fills the final pilot slot on The CW’s roster this season and arrives after network president Mark Pedowitz was not planning on adding another DC Comics show to his schedule.
“There is no development this year, in terms of DC properties; that said, last year there was no development, yet somehow Supergirl fell in our lap,” Pedowitz told THR in January. “So you never know if something pops out or doesn’t pop out.”
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