Developed last pilot season, Cruel Intentions picks up more than 15 years after the 1999 movie left off. The drama followed the beautiful and cunning Kathryn Merteuil (Sarah Michelle Gellar, reprising her role from the film) as she vied for control of Valmont International as well as the soul of Bash Casey (American Crime's Taylor John Smith), the son of her step-brother, the late Sebastian Valmont, and Annette Hargrove (Kate Levering). Upon discovering his late father’s legacy in a hidden journal, Bash is introduced to a world of sex, money, power and corruption he never could have imagined.
The project had been eyed for a summer 2017 slot, with prolonged talks between Sony Pictures Television and NBC said to focus on reducing the licensing fee for the typically little-watched season and stacking rights. NBC passing on the drama, based on the stage musical from Jordan Ross and Lindsey Rosin, comes as the revival is due to reopen in November. Sources say NBC's decision to pass comes as the network has a heavy midseason roster and didn't have room on its stable schedule for the series. (NBC's midseason roster includes Taken; Powerless; Trial & Error; Midnight, Texas; Great News; Marlon; and The Blacklist: Redemption, as well as returning seasons of The Carmichael Show and Shades of Blue.
The small-screen sequel, which landed at NBC with a penalty attached in October, hailed from Cruel Intentionswriter-director Roger Kumble and producer Neal Moritz. They are joined by Rosin and Ross, the duo behind the recent musical parody of the pic staged in Los Angeles. The pair's send-up at L.A.'s Rockwell Table & Stage in May attracted the film's four central stars, including Selma Blair, Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Phillippe and Gellar. Kumble remained in touch with Ross and Rosin after blessing the musical parody.
Kumble, Ross and Rosin penned the script and executive produce the Sony Pictures Television project, with Kumble having directed the pilot. The series hails from SPT-based Moritz and his Original Film banner. Moritz and Pavun Shetty also will exec produce. The movie, produced by SPT sibling Columbia Pictures, grossed $75 million on a $10.5 million budget.
Cruel Intentions would have given NBC a high-profile scripted entry in the summer, where the network previously had favored foreign acquisitions and lower-budget reality fare like American Ninja Warrior and America's Got Talent.