I don’t think I’ve seen this before — by the end of the Winter TCA, two broadcast networks, NBC and Fox, are almost done with their pilot orders. Of course, the orders this year are not just for pilots as the networks — especially Fox, and to some extent NBC — are mixing things up with series pickups and commitments and pilot “prototypes.” Here is where things stand.
Fox has 10 projects with a series order — or a variation of it — in production for next season: two event series, Wayward Pines and Gracepoint; 6-episode comedy Mulaney; 13-episode dramas Hieroglyph and Backstrom; Glenn Gordon Caron/Ben Affleck’s The Middle Man, which has five scripts written and is casting; a few pilots that are designed to go to series, including comic book drama Gotham and Spanish series adaptation Red Band Society, which are opening writers rooms, and comedies Fatrick and Cabot College (formerly untitled Matt Hubbard). Additionally, the network has serialized thrilled drama Runner, set against the U.S.-Mexico war over weapons and terrorism, on a series path with an order for additional scripts and a bible for off-cycle production, with another complex serialized drama, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced family thriller Home, expected to join it. The network also has a cast-contingent comedy pilot, Here’s Your Damn Family, produced by Johnny Galecki. Fox is expected to make a couple of more orders, with comedy Weird Loners said to be on the pickup runway and Will Forte’s Last Man On Earth and Dead Boss among those in contention.
NBC has ordered eight comedy pilots, two straight-to-series comedies (Tina Fey/Robert Carlock, Mr. Robinson), eight drama pilots and the 10-episode straight-to-series Wizard Of Oz project Emerald City, which, like Runner and Home, will set up a writers room and start working on backup scripts and a bible before going into production off-season. Another big-swing drama, John Glenn’s immaculate conception project, too has been given an order for backup scripts in lieu of a pilot order. With several event and miniseries also on tap (The Slap, Rosemary’s Baby), NBC is pretty much set on the drama side, with another pickup or two a possibility, and likely will order a couple of more comedy pilots, with the adaptation of the Tom Hanks movie The Money Pit and a Joe Port-Joe Wiseman half-hour among the hot prospects.
ABC also is deep into pilot pickups. It has ordered four drama pilots, plus 10-episode Secrets & Lies, and five comedy pilots. (Cast-contingent comedy pilot Strange Calls is eyeing a move to NBC for the next development season.) The network is expected to stay on par with last season at 10-12 drama pilots and the same number of comedy pilots. Among the scripts that are garnering heat are comedies Fresh off The Boat, from Nahnatchka Khan, and Damaged Goods, from Awkward creator Lauren Iungerich, which has a production commitment, and Dangerous Liaisons drama from Richard LaGravenese and producer Wren Arthur, with another series commitment/order a possibility.
Unlike its competitors, CBS, traditionally late to the party, is taking its time making pilot orders. The network has ordered only two new pilots, comedy Taxi-22 and the How I Met Your Mother spinoff, which join retooled comedies The McCarthys and Jim Gaffigan. No action yet on the drama side, where CBS has the direct-to-series Battle Creek, from Vince Gilligan and David Shore. I hear CBS is planning to order roughly the same number of pilots it has picked up the last couple of years, 10 comedies and 10 dramas. Among the buzzed about scripts are crime drama Real Deal, produced by Eva Longoria and a project from The Following creator Kevin Williamson referred to as Stalker Unit.
The CW is in the same boat as its sibling CBS, with only one ordered pilot: The Flash, based on the DC comic. The network also is expected to order the same number of pilots as the last two years, about eight, with another DC-based drama, Rob Thomas’ iZombie, getting a lot of heat.
TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.