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The NBCUniversal-owned cable network Wednesday confirmed that the backdoor pilot will air as the Aaron Korsh-created procedural’s season seven finale and is slated to air in the first quarter of 2018.
The episode will reunite Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman), Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty) and Rachel Zane (Meghan Markle) with their old friend Jessica Pearson (Torres) as she adjusts to her new life in the Windy City. When she is forced to enter the dirty world of Chicago politics, Pearson must rely on her legal wits and valiant relationships from Pearson Specter Litt to navigate this unknown territory.
Suits creator Korsh will pen the script alongside longtime exec producer Daniel Arkin. Anton Cropper (Suits, House of Lies, Black-ish) will direct the pilot, which like the flagship is exec produced by Universal Cable Productions and Hypnotic’s Doug Liman, David Bartis and Gene Klein.
“The powerhouse character of Jessica Pearson, expertly brought to life by the incomparable Gina Torres, has won the hearts of television fans everywhere,” said Chris McCumber, president of entertainment networks at NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. “USA Network is beyond thrilled to work with Gina, Aaron Korsh, the entire Suits producing team and our partners at UCP to explore the exciting next phase of Jessica’s story.”
Torres, who left Suits midway through season six, returned in the season six finale. In the time since she was a regular on USA Network’s longest-running original, she booked a recurring role on ABC’s since-canceled Shondaland drama The Catch and she was set to star in The Death of Eva Sofia Valdez, an ABC drama pilot that did not move forward.
“Gina Torres is a terrific actress and a valued member of our family,” said Jeff Wachtel, chief content officer at NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment and UCP president. “Gina and Aaron have created a truly memorable character in Jessica Pearson, and we felt we owed it to the audience — and ourselves! — to follow her journey beyond the original show.”
The official confirmation of the untitled spinoff pilot pickup comes six months after news first leaked that UCP was exploring a potential spinoff with Torres, though at the time USA Network had not yet heard the pitch despite being the natural home for the drama.
Torres is repped by Domain, Framework Entertainment and Shreck Rose.
“[Torres] had an idea and went to the studio and sort of discussed with them … It wasn’t a vague idea but it was a broader idea. They came to me, asked me what I thought. Obviously I love Jessica, I’m interested in seeing what’s happening with her in the future, and we decided to pursue it,” Korsh told THR in March after the season six finale.
The Suits spinoff joins a pilot slate at USA Network that also includes comedic crime drama Olive Forever. Suits, meanwhile, awaits word on a potential eighth season at USA.
Should the spinoff move forward, it would join a robust slate at USA that also includes Colony, Falling Water, Mr. Robot, Queen of the South, The Sinner, Damnation and Unsolved. Sophomore drama Shooter is, like Suits, awaiting word on its future.
Spinoffs continue to remain in high demand as broadcast, cable and streaming platforms look for proved IP in a bid to break through a cluttered landscape that features more than 455 scripted originals. CBS in the fall will launch a Big Bang Theory spinoff (Young Sheldon) and has found success with The Good Wife (The Good Fight) spinoff on its digital platform. AMC has hits in Better Call Saul and Fear the Walking Dead, both spinoffs of Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, respectively. HBO is also looking to continue mega-hit Game of Thrones and is developing four prequel shows.
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