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CBS and 20th Century Fox Television Strike Out With 'Chaos'

by Catherine Lawson, posted Jul 2nd 2010 10:20AM
It's been reported that the new CBS drama series 'Chaos' has been killed off before it even left the starting gate. According to Deadline, the game of brinkmanship between the network and the producer/distributor 20th Century Fox Television was still ongoing when the options on the actors' contracts expired at midnight Wednesday.

The breakdown in negotiations has been described as "a classic example of political gamesmanship between two companies that don't trust each other."

'Chaos' was due to star Freddy Rodríguez ('Six Feet Under') as a naive C.I.A. agent who wants to make the world a better place. It was written by Tom Spezialy ('Reaper,' Desperate Housewives') and the well-received pilot was directed by Brett 'X Men' Ratner, who was also in line to executive-produce the series with Spezialy.

News of the show's demise came as a shock to insiders as it was apparently popular at both the network and studio. Other stars attached to the project included Stephen Rea ('The Crying Game'), Eric Close ('Without a Trace') and Carmen Ejogo ('Kidnapped').

CBS announced in late May that it was picking up the show as a midseason replacement for the fall season but then only ordered eight episodes instead of the usual 13. Having fewer episodes meant the series was harder for 20th Century Fox Television to sell to foreign distributors and so they turned down CBS's offer. The two sides were moved further apart by the network asking for re shoots on the pilot without confirming that it would split the cost with the studio.

As with many stories coming out of CBS recently, budgetary issues with this project have been prominent. Although CBS had already ordered 13 episodes of its new 'Criminal Minds' spinoff, 'Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior,' and execs didn't feel they needed the same number from 'Chaos,' they eventually agreed to up the 'Chaos' order to 13 in exchange for a lower license fee. Again, Fox turned them down, and CBS then agreed to reinstate the original license fee.

All of the protracted wrangling meant that the studio missed its window to sell the series to several foreign buyers, so 20th Century said it would aim to recoup some of its losses by reducing the show's budget. This set off alarm bells at CBS as executives worried that the series wouldn't then be able to live up to the high quality of the pilot, and that Spezialy's vision would be undeliverable with less money. When talks broke down for the last time Fox had agreed to produce a high quality show but hadn't committed to an exact figure per episode.

Another big change that 20th Century wanted was to move production out of California so they could take advantage of local tax breaks. (Although the pilot was shot in Los Angeles, it was actually set in Cambodia and Sudan.) Locations considered included Dallas, Toronto and Vancouver. Spezialy is reported to have been in favor of Toronto as it offered a more European-looking city in line with his artistic vision, but execs balked at the potential logistical problems posed by the winters there.

In the end Vancouver -- shooting home of such series as 'Battlestar Galactica' and 'Fringe' -- seemed to win the location war. CBS, keen to preserve the feel of the pilot, asked to take over production of the series but were turned down. And to cap it all, while talks were dragging on Spezialy was losing his writers to other shows. 'Reaper' creators Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters, for example, dropped out after signing on to Fox's new blockbuster series 'Terra Nova.'

So at the end of five weeks the two companies couldn't reach an agreement and they ran out of time. The chaos surrounding 'Chaos' is officially over. For now anyway.

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lawrence fishberg

To goblue..whatever you are...the only "lie" was when your believed you were smart...trust me...you lied....otherwise, a wise person once told me that to educate a moron is to educate them...class dismissed, dumb-dumb.

July 05 2010 at 4:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Criminal minds is one of the best shows on TV. A little too gory most of the time though. Has it been announced that cast and production costs are being cut and yet a spinoff will be airing? Does that make any sense?

July 05 2010 at 12:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The one show that should really be canceled before it airs will be on NBC is about something every person in America HATES - Call centers in India! Who can stand talking to those people?! Who or what kind of moron would watch a show about it?!!!! How awful - No one in America is working because so many jobs were sent to India - why in the world would we watch that stupid show? I am sure this show will be as idiotic as the Caveman series or the carpool or some other piece of rubbish. No one will watch this show.

July 05 2010 at 12:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The decision makers on both sides are just immature adolescents playing schoolyard games, thats all :)

July 05 2010 at 12:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

First of all, it's Brett "X-Men 3" Ratner--the installment that nobody liked.

In most TV and film work today, cutting down the budget means cutting down on FX and eye candy; good writing can transport the viewer if you have good actors on a blank set. This writer needs to remember that most of Hitchcock's movies were lower budget thn a lot of the empty costumers of his time--movies that few people remember. If you have talented actors and good writing, the budget doesn't have to be all that large.

July 05 2010 at 12:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Cpeter133's comment

why is brett rantner not credited for his now cancelled (fox) show "prison break"? that's what he should be (and was) noted for and oh!, why isn't E! news talking about (former prison break star) wentworth miller's upcomming film "resident evil afterlife"? (out sept 10th) WE SEE A BACKLASH HERE!

July 05 2010 at 2:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kelly James

What was the show called: "Truth in America"?

July 05 2010 at 11:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lawrence fishberg


July 05 2010 at 11:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lawrence fishberg's comment

All your claims are lies. There is a lot of good stuff on TV and 98% percent isn't garbage either which is a another lie. I can fine almost anything on TV.

July 05 2010 at 12:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A naive CIA agent is a dead CIA agent...end of story. No need to have this show!

July 05 2010 at 10:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sounds to me like CBS is cutting their own throats this season. With them cutting back heavily on character and production costs on shows like Criminal MInds eyc. I think we can expect a lot of crappy low budget junk..........Thank God I have Satelite TV and I'm not restricted to just what they want to push off on us....

July 05 2010 at 9:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What's the big deal about this one? From what I've always heard dozens of pilots are shot every season that never make it to the airwaves. Lots of shows flop that have never been seen. For a few lucky ones, they'll be picked up down the road in years to come.

July 05 2010 at 9:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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