‘Prism’: Netflix Eyes ‘Rashomon’-Inspired Drama Piloted At NBC

EXCLUSIVE: Netflix is in explanatory conversations with Universal Television about picking up former NBC drama pilot Prism to series, I have learned. I hear there has been considerable interest but sources stress that talks are in very preliminary stages and may not lead to a deal.

Prism, from Daniel and Ben Barnz’s We’re Not Brothers Productions, Carol Mendelsohn and Julie Weitz, was an early standout at NBC, landing one of the first two pilot orders at the broadcast network alongside Bluff City Law, which went to series.

Prism did not make the cut at NBC but Universal TV brass had been very high on the project and took it out immediately after the network passed on the pilot. The feeling was that Prism‘s content is more premium, so it was shopped to SVOD services, with Netflix engaging in talks, I hear.

If a deal for Prism is reached, I hear Netflix intends to retool the drama. I hear Universal TV is not holding onto the actors whose options expire at the end of the month; it is not clear if any of the cast members would be asked to continue.

Billions‘ Malin Ackerman has received praise for her performance in the pilot whose strong cast also includes Ramon Rodriguez, Mykelti Williamson, Chloe Wepper, David Alpay, Brooke Smith, Sara Rue, Joe Tippett and Alex Neustaedter.

Netflix has picked up to series projects piloted for broadcast in the past, including NBC’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and the CW’s Insatiable, and it also has rescued canceled broadcast series, including Fox’s Lucifer and ABC’s Designated Survivor.

Written by Daniel Barnz, who also directs, Prism is inspired by Rashomon, the 1950 Japanese period psychological thriller directed by Akira Kurosawa. Prism is described as a provocative exploration of a murder trial in which every episode is told through the perspective of a different key person involved. Each new version of the facts ratchets up the mystery and the suspense, calling into question everything we have seen so far and asking is the right person on trial? Driven by an ensemble of complicated characters, the show lets the audience ask if truth matters less than who can tell the most compelling story.

Daniel Barnz and Ben Barnz executive produce along with Mendelsohn and Weitz. Universal TV produces in association with We’re Not Brothers and Carol Mendelsohn Prods.

Kurosawa’s Rashomon uses a plot device that became known as the Rashomon Effect, which involves various characters providing contradictory interpretations of the same incident.

If Prism is picked up by Netflx, this would mark a remarkable feat for NBC’s 2019 drama development, with every single pilot going go series, Bluff City Law, Council Of Dads, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist and Lincoln at NBC, Emergence at ABC and Prism at Netflix.

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