Homicide producer's new show too grim for NBC

By Reuters

Apr 23, 2008

Veteran TV producer Tom Fontana has exited NBC's new drama series The Philanthropist because his vision was too dark for the network.

The Philanthropist centers on a renegade billionaire who uses his wealth, connections, and power to help people in need no matter what the risks or costs.

Fontana, who won several Emmys for his work on St. Elsewhere and Homicide: Life on the Street, wrote the pilot script, based on an idea by producer Charlie Corwin. NBC ordered the script straight to series in September.

Fontana assembled a writing staff for the show and began breaking stories for additional episodes until the 100-day Hollywood writers strike brought the process to a halt. The writers went back to work in February and handed a number of scripts to the network.

At that point, it became clear that Fontana and network brass had different visions for the series, sources said.

True to his gritty roots, Fontana focused on such social issues as immigration, drug addiction, and the use of children soldiers in parts of world, while the network was looking for more escapist and fantastical approach to fit the rest of its lineup.

Additionally, the project has had difficulty casting the lead for the past seven months.

Still, NBC said earlier this month that Philanthropist will be on its 2008-09 schedule, launching in midseason and airing Mondays at 10 p.m.

The search is under way for a new writer-showrunner. The fate of the show's current writing staff, mostly scribes who have worked with Fontana before, is unclear. Fontana, meanwhile, is developing a new project for AMC.

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  • tmsd6 Apr 27, 2008

    This is the problem with network tv. They don't want original adult programming they rather retread shows. Thats why cable channels have most of the best shows(fx,USA,hbo and showtime) he should take the show to fx.

  • dgranitz2004 Apr 24, 2008

    NBC is retarded. They have quality shows that win prestigious awards, such as peabodies, but they haven't pulled real ratings since the exit of Friends in 2004. They need to reinvent themselves, and the best place to start, is with a gritty, sure-to-be-a-critical-darling show, that is socially aware and socially revealing, rather another carbon copy of a crappy "NBC-type" show.

    On AMC, he could do a lot more. Mad Men already won a peabody and the golden globe, and that was their first real original series. I think his next show could be as gritty, depressing, and revealing on that network as the shield was on FX. Go Fontana.

  • billmaxwell3 Apr 24, 2008

    Sounds interesting - loved it the first time they did and called it "The Equalizer" with Edward Woodward!!

  • LAURAMARIE63 Apr 24, 2008

    Homicide was based on the idea Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets a book written by Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon - let's give him some credit.

  • endlesslover Apr 24, 2008

    Welcome back, Spice Girls, you were very much missed. I saw Heidi's profile on millionaire&celeb; dating site "RichMatchMaking.com" last week. It seems she is single now.

  • mammalazz Apr 24, 2008

    we will have to see

  • samosfromhalo Apr 23, 2008

    I guess we'll see how this turns out when the show premieres. If it suddenly becomes atrociously bad after the first few episodes, we'll know why.

  • Dakotagirl823 Apr 23, 2008

    That's unfortunate. NBC desperately needs to reinvent itself and The Philanthopist would have been the perfect show to give the network a new image. On the other hand, if I was Fontana, I would have taken the show's idea to HBO, Showtime or FX. These channels have some of the best shows currently on TV.

  • lawgotham Apr 23, 2008

    What a blunder. Maybe FX could use it to replace The Shield (another great, gritty show)when it's run is over.

  • logossun Apr 23, 2008

    Refusing a Fontana project because it's too gritty (i.e. too exciting and in-your-face? Only in PC America. Sad, really really sad.

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