NBC & Lionsgate Develop ‘Freakonomics’ Inspired TV Series

Themes from the popular book will be fused with a police procedural in "Pariah."

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Although "Freakonomics" has an been extremely popular book since it was first published in 2005, very few would have predicted that it could ever inspire a cop show. And yet it could happen at NBC.

Deadline is reporting that Lionsgate Television has successfully pitched "Pariah" to NBC as a potential TV series. "Pariah" is said to feature characters inspired by the economic theories within "Freakonomics."

The premise for "Pariah" centers upon a "rogue academic" who is tasked by the mayor of San Diego to run his own law enforcement task force and use alternative methods of policing. Because the main character has no law enforcement experience himself, this causes the San Diego police to voice their disapproval as the lead character solves crimes by using bizarre and controversial experiments on the people who live there. 

"Freakonomics" was written by University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt and New York Times journalist Stephen J. Dubner. It is a non-fiction book that applies economic theories to several unlikely subjects. In 2010, "Freakonomics" was used as the basis for a documentary called Freakonomics: The Movie. Levitt and Dubner also wrote followup book, "SuperFreakonomics" and "Freakonomics" also lives on as a blog.

The initial story on Deadline isn't clear about whether Levitt and Dubner have any involvement with "Pariah," of if "Freakonomics" is simply an inspiration for the potential series. The "Pariah" TV project was created by Kevin Fox, who previously wrote for "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." Kelsey Grammer’s Grammnet Productions is also producing the project alongside Lionsgate TV.

If the project goes forward, "Pariah" would likely be in contention for the Fall 2013 TV season.