July 22, 2024

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USA Network is returning to the legal drama arena with The Rainmaker, based on the bestselling John Grisham novel and its film adaptation. The project, from writer Michael Seitzman (Code Black), Lionsgate Television and Blumhouse Television, has received a series order by the NBCUniversal cable network, capping a six-year journey by Seitzman to bring the book to television.

This marks USA Network’s first new scripted series in awhile as part of a planned relaunch as a destination for scripted originals. The network currently shares Chucky with Syfy, which is on the bubble for a Season 4 renewal. It also is in advanced negotiations to pick up Syfy’s Resident Alien, which, as Deadline reported exclusively, is poised to become a USA original.

The Rainmaker is not believed to be part of the “Blue Sky” brand USA Network has been looking to revive with new shows. That programming initiative, revealed exclusively by Deadline last fall, involves developing hourlong series at budgets in the $2M-$3M an episode, recognizing the economic realities of basic cable, which has been heavily impacted by cord-cutting and the overall decline in linear viewing. I hear the budget for The Rainmaker is toward the higher end of that range.

In The Rainmaker, fresh out of law school, Rudy Baylor goes head-to-head with courtroom lion Leo Drummond as well as his law school girlfriend. Rudy, along with his boss and her disheveled paralegal, uncover two connected conspiracies surrounding the mysterious death of their client’s son.

USA’s “Blue Sky” era included such legal shows as Suits and Fairly Legal.

The Rainmaker was originally part of an innovative two-series drama project based on two Grisham novels, the 1995 The Rainmaker and 2015 Rogue Lawyer, which was set up at Hulu in 2018. The project, on which Seitzman teamed up with writer-producer Jason Richman (Stumptown), was envisioned as the first chapter in a larger franchise, tentatively titled The Grisham Universe. The duo, who were both under deals at Hulu sibling ABC Studios at the time, assembled a writers room, with Seitzman focused primarily on The Rainmaker and Richman on Rogue Lawyer.

The idea, which may have been overly ambitious, did not move forward. When Seitzman got the scripts back, he separated them into two distinct shows. Now under a deal at Blumhouse Television, he further developed The Rainmaker, which was taken by Jason Blum to Lionsgate after his company recently partnered with the indie studio on a multi-picture film deal to reimagine horror classics from the Lionsgate library.

Seitzman, Lionsgate TV and Blumhouse TV took the project out, opting to go with USA, with The Rainmaker as a cornerstone of its new scripted slate and the network open to building a larger universe in success.

Seitzman and Richman wrote the pilot script, with Seitzman as writer on the series. The two are executive producing with Grisham, Blum and David Gernert.

The 1997 movie The Rainmaker, written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola based on Grisham’s novel, stars Matt Damon, Claire Danes, Jon Voight, Mary Kay Place, Mickey Rourke, Danny DeVito, Danny Glover, Roy Scheider, Virginia Madsen, and Teresa Wright.

Seitzman, whose series credits also include Quantico and Intelligence, is repped by WME and Paul Hastings. Richman is repped by CAA, Fuel Filmworks and Sloane Offer Weber & Dern.

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