EXCLUSIVE: The biggest TV project to hit the market in a long time has landed with the biggest series commit in quite some time. Apple TV+ stole the new show from Breaking Bad creator and You better call Saul co-creator Vince Gilligan, who has You better call Saul star Rhea Seehorn confirmed to play the lead role. The untitled project, described as a mixed, grounded genre drama, has received an order for two seasons from the streamer.
Hailing from Gilligan’s longtime studio home, Sony Pictures Television, the new series marks Gilligan’s follow-up to the back-to-back critical and ratings hits Breaking Bad and prequel You better call Saul. It also marks Gilligan’s second collaboration with You better call Saul star Seehorn, who received an Emmy nomination in 2022 for her acclaimed performance on the show.
Gilligan will act as showrunner and executive producer through his High Bridge Productions. Former Sony Pictures TV president Jeff Frost, who oversaw the project before recently resigning from his executive position, will also executive produce along with Diane Mercer. Jenn Carroll produces for High Bridge Productions.
As Deadline reported exclusively last month, Gilligan’s pitch has been much anticipated, with at least 8-9 networks and platforms lining up to hear it and read his script. There were multiple bidding rounds for the project, which I heard was a series order and budget in the neighborhood of $13.5 million – $15 million per episode – on the high side for a premium drama with significant genre elements, but not in the jaw – $20 million + dropping an episode range for shows like LOTR: The Rings of Power, House of the Dragon or the now suspended Demi-monde.
Apple TV+, which showed great enthusiasm for the project and pursued it aggressively, was seen as a strong contender from the start due to top-ranked Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht’s long-standing relationship with Gilligan. As Sony Pictures Television Presidents, Van Amburg and Erlicht were the spearheads and they both sold Breaking Bad and You better call Saul. On Apple TV+, Gilligan will also reunite with former SPT Studios co-chair Chris Parnell, now a senior TV programmer at the streamer. (Other outlets I heard competing for the series included Amazon and Breaking Bad / Better Call Saul network AMC.)
“After fifteen years, I felt it was time to take a break from writing anti-heroes… and who could be more heroic than the brilliant Rhea Seehorn? It’s been a long time since she had her own show, and I feel privileged to work with her on it,” Gilligan said. “And what a beautiful symmetry to be reunited with Zack Van Amburg, Jamie Erlicht and Chris Parnell! Jamie and Zack were the first two people to say yes to Breaking Bad all those years ago. They’ve built a great team at Apple and my wonderful long-standing partners at Sony Pictures Television and I’m excited to do business with them.”
As usual, Gilligan would not reveal any details about the premise of his show.
As Deadline previously reported, the show is believed to be a departure from the world of drugs and crime it explored Breaking Bad and You better call Saulwhose series finale aired last month.
As compared to the twilight zone, the new series is said to take place in our world as it tweaks, bends reality and focuses on humans and explores the human condition in an unexpected, surprising way. The series is thought provoking, but is not a morality story. The series is also expected to carry the signature Gilligan tone that infuses drama with humor.
Gilligan, one of the most celebrated TV creators of his generation, created and produced AMC’s critically acclaimed Breaking Bad, which won two Emmys for Outstanding Drama Series. He is co-creator/executive producer, along with Peter Gould, of the Breaking Bad precursor You better call Saul, who has also been a juggernaut, garnering 46 Emmy nominations to date, seven of them this year, including Outstanding Drama Series. Gilligan also earned multiple Emmy nominations for his work on The X Files. He is represented by CAA and Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka.
In addition to You better call Saul, Seehorn’s credits include: Veep, things heard and seen, and the upcoming movies Linoleum and Wyrm. Seehorn was also Emmy nominated for actress in a short digital series for Cooper’s Bar, on which she directed and produced exec. She is represented by Untitled Entertainment and UTA.
UPDATE: Chris Parnell responded to the announcement of the Apple TV+ deal and spoke about the quality of the series.
— Chris Parnell (@ChrisFParnell) September 22, 2022