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NBC is trying its hand at Nancy Drew.
More than a year after CBS passed on its Sarah Shahi-fronted Nancy Drew, NBC is teaming with Tony Phelan and Joan Rater to redevelop the drama.
The project, which is in development, has an entirely new logline at CBS despite hailing from the same producing team and studio (CBS Television Studios). Here’s the new logline: “When the author of the most famous female teen detective series is thrust into a real-life murder mystery, who does she turn to for help? Her two best friends from childhood, who were the inspiration for all those books, and the women who have a real ax to grind about the way their supposed best friend chose to portray them all those years ago.”
The CBS version, which made headlines for its inclusive casting of Person of Interest grad Shahi, went to pilot and was described as a contemporary take on the character from the book series. It starred Shahi as Nancy, now in her 30s and working as a detective for the NYPD where she investigated and solved crimes using her uncanny observational skills, all while navigating the complexities of life in a modern world. CBS passed on the pilot in May 2016 after sources at the time said the drama did not come in as strong as the network would have hoped. Multiple industry observers noted that it was a toss-up between Katherine Heigl legal drama Doubt and Drew for the remaining drama slot at CBS. (Doubt, also written by Phelan and Rater, went on to be picked up to series and canceled after only airing a handful of episodes.)
NBC’s Nancy Drew will again be written by Phelan and Rater (Grey’s Anatomy), who executive produce via their overall deal with CBS TV Studios. Dan Jinks returns to exec produce.
Should Nancy Drew move forward at NBC, it would feature a completely different cast. The CBS take co-starred Anthony Edwards, Vanessa Ferlito, Steve Kazee, Felix Solis, Rob McClure and Debra Monk.
Nancy Drew first appeared in books in 1930 and was originally created by Edward Stratemeyer. The beloved books have been ghostwritten by a series of authors and published under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. The character has evolved in the decades since, though the original series — Nancy Drew Mystery Stories — ran from 1930-2003. The franchise has included spinoff series including Nancy Drew Files and collaborations with The Hardy Boys.
The character of Nancy Drew over time has spawned a TV series — The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries — that ran for three seasons on ABC in the late 1970s and starred Pamela Sue Martin (and later Janet Louise Johnson) as well as Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson. The series was an anthology of sorts, with some episodes focusing only on Nancy Drew, and others on amateur sleuth siblings Frank and Joe Hardy. The series was produced by Glen A. Larson Productions and distributed by Universal Television. (Larson passed away in November 2014.)
The 1970s ABC series was the first to air with Nancy Drew, though CBS and producers Desilu (I Love Lucy) produced a pilot starring Roberta Shore that was based on the movies from the 1930s that ultimately never aired after author Harriet Adams (aka Keene) objected. Several other attempts to launch a TV series have been made in the decades since, including a failed Canadian series in the late ‘80s and ‘90s which was canceled midway through its first season following poor ratings. More recently, ABC aired a Nancy Drew TV movie starring Maggie Lawson that was slated to run as a back-door pilot. Despite ordering additional scripts, the project did not move forward.
On the film side, Bonita Granville played Nancy Drew in four Warner Bros. films in the 1930s and, more recently, Emma Roberts (Scream Queens) played the famed sleuth in a 2007 movie from the same studio.
Historically, the character is a feminist icon whose cultural impact has been great and has influenced everyone from Sandra Day O’Connor and Hillary Clinton to Oprah Winfrey and Barbra Streisand and more.
Nancy Drew arrives as broadcast networks continue to look for proven intellectual property in a bid to cut through the cluttered landscape that is quickly approaching 500 scripted originals.
The husband-and-wife duo of Phelan and Rater are repped by UTA and Myman Greenspan; Jinks is with UTA and Bloom Hergott.
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