It took an extra day but True Lies, which had been expected to get a nod yesterday, along with CBS’ other new series orders, is officially picked up to series. As Deadline reported yesterday, the reboot of James Cameron’s hit 1994 action comedy movie, from Matt Nix, McG, Cameron and 20th Television, is targeted for midseason. It joins CBS’ other newly picked up hourlong series, Fire Country, East New York and So Help Me Todd, which are expected to be on the fall schedule.
It is no surprise that CBS and True Lies studio 20th Television needed an extra day to hammer out a deal given the companies’ complicated history over the last decade. This is 20th TV’s first hourlong series order at CBS in 12 years, since dramady Chaos, whose initial series pickup dramatically fell through after the two sides could not agree on a deal. The show was eventually picked up and had a brief run the following year.
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Nix himself was at the center of another dramatic episode in 2016 when a CBS/20th TV pilot order for a drama by him and Amy Holden Jones was scrapped when a co-production deal fell through. 20th TV’s last series on CBS overall was the 2015 comedy series Life In Pieces, which ran for four seasons. The studio was once one of CBS’ top suppliers, delivering such shows as hit 2005 comedy How I Met Your Mother.
Today’s pickup has been six years in the making for McG, bringing a long, twisted road to the small screen to a successful conclusion with the CBS series, which stars Steve Howey and Ginger Gonzaga in the roles made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis in the original movie.
bringing True Lies to television has been a longtime passion for McG who is friends with Cameron. He started pursuing the idea in 2016, shortly after he signed an overall deal with 20th TV, whose sister feature studio produced the movie. The following year, a TV series reboot with Marc Guggenheim as a writer sold to Fox with a put pilot commitment. It did not go beyond the script stage but McG continued his efforts. In a 2019 interview, he indicated that a True Lies TV series could still happen, possibly at Disney+.
A year later, McG was tapped as director and executive producer of 20th TV’s series reboot of another popular movie, Turner & Hooch, for Disney+, created and executive produced by Nix. The two hit it off and partnered on True Lies. Their pitch landed at CBS in fall 2020 and the project was picked up to pilot in early 2021. Then, in what often is considered a death knell for a pilot, True Lies was pushed.
The pilot was eventually shot off-cycle but, in another anxiety-inducing development, CBS did not give it an early series pickup but left it for consideration with the 2022 crop of pilots. While I hear the pilot divided top CBS brass, it still had solid support, and its marketing prospects, including Cameron’s involvement as EP, were undeniable, helping the pilot score a pickup in what turned out to be a strong CBS drama pilot field this year . (Overall, four of CBS’ five hourlong pilots in consideration this season went to series).
CBS, which did not order new half-hour comedy series for next season, is betting on lighter dramas instead, with both True Lies and So Help Me Todd.
Here are details about the series:
EP/W: Matt Nix (Flying Glass of Milk Productions)
EP/D: Anthony Hemingway (Anthony Hemingway Productions)
EP/NW: James Cameron and Rae Sanchini (Lightstorm Entertainment); McG, Mary Viola and Corey Marsh (Wonderland Sound and Vision); Josh Levy (Flying Glass of Milk Productions)
CO-EPs: Sean Hoagland and Whitney Davis (Anthony Hemingway Productions)
STUDIO: 20th Television
LOGLINE: Shocked to discover that her bland and unremarkable computer consultant husband is a skilled international spy, an unfulfilled suburban housewife is propelled into a life of danger and adventure when she’s recruited to work alongside him to save the world as they try to revitalize their passionless wedding.
CAST: STEVE HOWEY, GINGER GONZAGA, ERICA HERNANDEZ, OMAR MILLER, MIKE O’GORMAN, ANNABELLA DIDION and LUCAS JAYE