Gene Hackman, Tom Cruise

Looking for some good ratings counsel, NBC is turning to John Grisham's The Firm. The network is in talks to pick up a new series based on the best-selling legal thriller, which was also the basis of a 1993 movie starring Tom Cruise.

Lukas Reiter (The Forgotten, Law & Order) is adapting the book for TV and wrote the pilot script. The Firm has actually been in development for some time, originally at CBS. More recently, Reiter and Grisham, who are both executive producing, pitched The Firm to several cable networks.

Instead, production company eOne Entertainment decided to green light the drama with Sony (which will air the show overseas on its AXN channel) and produce 22 episodes. In the U.S., eOne is expected to sell the show to NBC, which leads the pack to land rights to purchase the domestic window to The Firm. (ABC was also believed to be in the running.)

In a cost-cutting move, networks are increasingly willing to purchase series that have already been financed and co-produced internationally by a non-U.S. entity, and often to run during the summer. That includes shows like CBS' Flashpoint and ABC's summer series Rookie Blue, which also comes from eOne and is a co-production with Canadian broadcaster Canwest.

Grisham has found much more success in film than he has on TV, but the author has been looking to change those fortunes. Besides The Firm, Grisham recently worked with NBC to turn his short story collection Ford County into a primetime drama. Brothers and Sisters creator Jon Robin Baitz worked with Grisham on the project, which didn't proceed to pilot. Grisham's one major TV project was CBS' 1995 take on The Client, which only lasted a season.

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