After an intense bidding war, Fox 21 has closed a deal to produce Renee Zellweger’s “Cinnamon Girl” TV pilot for Lifetime, with a budget around $6 million, described as the highest cost ever for a basic cable pilot.
Lifetime has licensed the rights for U.S. television, and will pay about half of the production cost.
A spokesman for the studio said that Fox 21's Bert Salke stepped up and won the project on Friday afternoon.
An individual close to the deal has told TheWrap that six studios were once in the bidding for the music-themed series.
Others bidding for producing rights included Warner Horizon Television and Universal Cable Productions. Only UCP and Fox 21 were left in the running on Friday.
A Lifetime executive reached by TheWrap disputed the $6 million figure but could offer no specifics.
Lifetime bought the drama pilot, which Zellweger co-created and co-wrote, and risked a $600,000 penalty if they did not make it, the individual said.
Lifetime chief Nancy Dubuc was convinced the show could become a signature for the network, similar to "Mad Men" on AMC or "Glee" on Fox.
Lifetime reportedly considered producing it and retaining the ownership. But given the setting of 1960's Los Angeles and the theme – music — they decided to find a studio to produce the project and to distribute it internationally.
The show is expected to find and create ingenue musical stars similar to what "Glee" and "American Idol" have done. The producers will retain multiple rights over licensing, music sales and concert appearances for the show's talent.
Zellweger co-created “Cinnamon Girl” with Anthony Tambakis (“Warrior”). The story combines Zellwegger’s own journey from Texas to Hollywood, and Tambakis’ interest in the late 1960’s music and movie scene around Laurel Canyon and New Hollywood.
The story revolves around four girls and explores their lives at this turning point in cultural history. Allie MacDonald, Alexis Knapp, Brooke Anne Smith, Jade Bartlett and Sebastian Piggott signed on to the project earlier this month.
CAA represented Zellweger and steered the deal.
Sharon Waxman contributed to this report.