Though many know him from his stellar work in films such as Traffic and Syriana, some might be surprised to learn Academy Award-Winner Stephen Gaghan wrote for television dramas like NYPD Blue and The Practice before getting a chance to work in feature films. Recently picked up by NBC, S.I.L.A. (Special Investigations Los Angeles) will be Gaghan’s return to his roots, in a way.
With S.I.L.A., the writer intends to blend his distinct style of telling multifaceted, layered stories within the realm of network television and serialized dramas. Having also directed Syriana, it comes as no surprise he will also helm the show’s pilot episode.
While very few details are known at this time about casting, it isn’t hard to imagine this will be a large ensemble. Given Gaghan’s pedigree and history of working with some top-notch talent like George Clooney and Matt Damon, the project will almost certainly be able to draw in fine television actors looking to settle into meatier roles.
S.I.L.A. also has the distinction of being produced by Chernin Entertainment, which has a large number of shows being picked up for pilot—many on Fox. Tim Kring’s Touch and Elizabeth Meriwether’s untitled comedy are two of the higher profile programs that Chernin has been churning out lately.
NBC, meanwhile, has certainly been ambitious with acquisitions for the 2011-12 TV season. In addition to S.I.L.A., the peacock network has David E. Kelly’s Wonder Woman, the Steven Spielberg drama Smash, District 17 from Ron Moore and the Mad Men-esque period drama Playboy. All these projects are part of NBC’s plans to restore some luster to the network, which has been in a ratings slump the past few seasons.
While procedural dramas such as NBC’s Law & Order franchise have ruled the airwaves for many years, they are getting a bit long in the tooth, and a tad predictable. With the similarly-paced Traffic and Syriana, Gaghan, too, has a formula, but it seems to be one which partners well with character development and hard-hitting stories that cause viewers to ponder while also being entertained.Perhaps S.I.L.A. will bring with it a fresh approach that not only livens up network television, but ensnares new viewers as well.