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Celebrities TV

‘L.A.’s Finest,’ Starring Gabrielle Union, Jessica Alba, Passed Over at NBC

Jessica Alba

Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba. The Sony Pictures Television Studios drama from exec producer Jerry Bruckheimer will be shopped to other outlets following the surprising pass from NBC.

Sources say talks between NBC and Sony TV broke down as part of the annual packaging negotiation between the network and studio which, this year, focused on Norman Lear’s Guess Who Died, L.A.’s Finest and bubble dramas The Blacklist and Timeless.

L.A.’s Finest, which saw Union reprise her role from the second Bad Boys feature film, was considered the biggest slam dunk of pilot season given its built in premise, star and producing team. Union also personally recruited Jessica Alba — who hadn’t done TV in years — to be her co-star. The drama landed at NBC with a sizable penalty and was among the network’s first pilot pickups.

The pass comes as this was the first season that studio Sony TV’s new executive team was negotiating with NBC for a multiple-series package. Trio Chris Parnell, Jason Clodfelter and Jeff Frost replaced Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht at the studio after the latter duo had successfully packaged shows including The Night Shift and Community for seasons well beyond what many in the industry had expected. (Despite the pass at NBC, Parnell, Clodfelter and Frost successfully got The Goldbergs spinoff, Schooled, on the air at ABC with a straight-to-series order a year after the Disney-owned network passed on the pilot. The 1990s-set spinoff aired as an episode of the flagship series this season, a rare and impressive move for a busted pilot that will be reworked to add a new central character.)

What remains unclear now is if another suitor will step up to pick up L.A.’s finest, given that the drama boasts a sizable price tag and hails from an outside studio in an era where many broadcast, cable and streaming outlets are increasingly focused on ownership. In addition to the budget on the drama — with two big stars — whomever decides to kick the tires would have to likely get a piece of the ownership pie and negotiate a reasonable licensing fee for the project.

The drama revolves around free-spirited former DEA agent Syd Burnett (Union), who has a fresh start in her new job as an LAPD detective. She is partnered with Nancy McKenna (jessica Alba), a working mom who can’t help but look at Syd’s freedom with some grass-is-greener envy. These two have totally different lifestyles and approaches, but they both are at the top of their fields in the action-packed, character-driven procedural. Ernie Hudson, Ryan McPartlin, Zach Gilford and Duane Martin co-starred. The Blacklist duo Brandon Sonnier and Brandon Margolis penned the script and exec produced alongside Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman, KristieAnne Reed, Jeff Gaspin, Jeff Morrone, Doug Belgrad, Union, Alba and Anton Cropper, the latter of whom directed.
Still to be determined are the fates of bubble dramas Timeless and The Blacklist. Sources say The Blacklist star James Spader has two years remaining on his contract, which would make a renewal still a possibility. Timeless, on the other hand, has not been a ratings juggernaut since it was revived after Van Amburg and Erlicht saved the series after its surprising cancellation last year. The season two finale ends on a cliffhanger.

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