Not only are we anticipating the big buys out of Sundance for the independent film world, but there’s also been a lot of buzz surrounding the television production companies and the high-profile pilots being picked up for fall 2011. Anticipated pilots already being made include a remake of “Charlie’s Angels” for ABC, a new Sarah Michelle Gellar vehicle for CBS, a grown-up “Harry Potter” show for NBC and J.J. Abrams’ pilot about Alcatraz for FOX. The latest news from FOX also indicates that they’ve greenlit yet another pilot, this time from director and executive producer Antoine Fuqua, starring Ethan Hawke and titled “Exit Strategy.” The two last worked together on “Brooklyn’s Finest,” but Fuqua also directed Hawke to an Oscar nomination for “Training Day” (and Denzel Washington to a win for the same film).
The pilot, written by David Guggenheim (“Safe House”), has been set up at Fox for months, but only recently has Hawke come along and pushed the project through. The show is described as a “high octane procedural” where five CIA experts are sent into the field to extract old CIA agents after a mission goes bad. Hawke plays the team leader and mastermind of the exit strategy. The procedural part comes in because each episode will take place in a different country with a different crisis each week. “Exit Strategy” plays off the popularity of “24,” in that the show will unfold in real time. The studios are even said to be looking at this show as the new “24” for fans who miss the old series.
Hawke was last seen in “Brooklyn’s Finest” and has Pawel Pawlikoswki's "The Woman In The Fifth" coming up this year. This could be Hawke’s chance to get back in the spotlight through a different medium, though, the premise doesn't exactly sound groundbreaking and we all know that having a movie star on board doesn’t always make good television -- just look at Christian Slater’s back-to-back television failures, “My Own Worst Enemy” and “The Forgotten.” Also, the fall 2011 television lineup looks to be a strong one, much more so than this past fall, so the competition for a pilot could be tough. Here’s hoping they stick with the gritty, no-holds-barred approach that Fuqua took for “Training Day” all those years ago. -Catherine Scott