KaDee Strickland, co-star of the recently departed ABC drama Private Practice, is back on series duty with a lead role opposite Skyler Samuels in NBC‘s drama pilot Bloodline. Written by David Graziano and directed by Peter Berg, Bloodline is described as a pulpy, highly stylized look into the cheeky world of Bird Benson (Samuels), a smart, irreverent and strong young girl who, due to an accident of birth, finds herself caught in the middle of an epic struggle between two warrior families set against the backdrop of modern suburbia. Strickland, repped by WME, Anonymous Content and Neil Meyer, will play Bird’s statuesque and strikingly beautiful mother Stella, who has been raised in a family descended from an ancient line of killers, brigands and mercenaries. The role is said to be in the vein of Uma Thurman’s The Bride from Kill Bill. Stella’s father is played by Jonathan Banks.
The Nine Lives Of Chloe King star Skyler Samuels has landed the lead of NBC‘s drama pilot Bloodline, playing another teen girl warrior. Written by David Graziano and directed by Peter Berg, Bloodline is described as a pulpy, highly stylized look into the cheeky world of Bird Benson (Samuels), a smart, irreverent and strong young girl who, due to an accident of birth, finds herself caught in the middle of an epic struggle between two warrior families set against the backdrop of modern suburbia. The character echoes Samuel’s Chloe on the ABC Family series, who was a descendant of an ancient race and became a warrior trying to stop the war between that race and humans. On Bloodline, Samuels, repped by UTA, Brillstein Entertainment and attorney Tom Hoberman, joins Breaking Bad‘s Jonathan Banks who plays her maternal grandfather.
EXCLUSIVE: NBC has given a pilot order to Bloodline, a stylized drama from writer David Graziano (Awake, Lie To Me) and producers Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey. Berg is set to direct the pilot, produced by Universal TV and Berg and Aubrey’s Film 44.
Bloodline, which reflects Graziano’s love of pulp, graphic novels and ancient mythology, is a contemporary pulp action thriller in the vein of Kill Bill. Set against the backdrop of modern suburbia, it follows the story of an orphaned young girl, Bird Benson, who, due to an accident of birth, is caught in the epic struggle between two warring families of mercenaries and killers. Mentored by a mysterious Chinese man, Bird must accept the quest to find and defeat her mother in mortal combat if she is ever to lead a normal life. Graziano is exec producing with Berg and Aubrey. Bloodline extends Graziano’s relationship with NBC entertainment president Jennifer Salke who signed Graziano in an overall deal while at 20th TV. In addition to Bloodline, WME-repped Berg and Film 44 have drama M.I.C.E., based on the Israeli format The Gordin Cell, which received a put pilot commitment at NBC, with Berg writing/directing. Graziano, repped by Rothman Brecher Kim, also has mob drama The Sixth Family in the works at Cinemax, with Warner Horizon producing.
At NBC, Bloodline joins off-cycle medical drama pilot After Hours …
EXCLUSIVE: Gigi Levangie, who previously helped adapt her novels The Starter Wife and Maneater as successful mini-series, is taking another novel to television. Levangie is set to co-write Seven Deadlies, a drama project for MTV based on her upcoming book of the same name, which will be published this fall by Blue Rider/Penguin. Seven Deadlies, which Levangie will be co-writing with Stacey Title and Jonathan Penner, is set in an exclusive, private high school and centers on a Latina scholarship student who discovers that her classmates carry the bloodlines of the seven deadly sins, and that she must defeat them in order to save the world all while maintaining her GPA. The project reunites Levangie with MTV topper Susanne Daniels who, while running Lifetime, put Maneater in development. The Starter Wife mini premiered to big ratings on USA, spawning a regular series, which aired for one season. Levangie is repped by WME, Wetdog Entertainment and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern. Paradigm-repped Penner and Title are currently rewriting The Bye Bye Man for Intrepid Pictures.
5TH UPDATE: Also now dead is the Robert Padnick comedy pilot.
4TH UPDATE: The Night Shift obituary was premature. In the flurry of passes, the pilot was erroneously bundled with those that are definitely dead, but it appears that no calls have been made on it yet. So if you worked on that pilot or have clients on it, you can breathe easier, at least for now.
Following several years of declines in the number of drama pilots shot in Los Angeles, the City of Angels staged a comeback this season with 14, reclaiming the top spot as the most popular drama pilot destination after falling for the first time to No. 3 last year behind New York and Vancouver. Los Angeles benefited from the increased overall pilot volume this season, housing 13 of this year’s 48 hourlong pilots, up from 8 (out of 41) last year and 11 (out of 42) the year before, and just short of the 2010 haul of 14 pilots (out of 43).
New York, fresh off luring back The Tonight Show, has become a comedy pilot magnet. The Big Apple already has solid comedy credentials on the cable side with FX’s Louie and HBO’s Girls, but I can’t think of any major half-hour broadcast pilot shot in New York since NBC’s 30 Rock, which just ended its seven-season run. This year, there were a whopping five (all single-camera): NBC’s Michael J. Fox project, which has straight-to-series order, and Assistance; CBS’ Jim Gaffigan and untitled Rottenberg & Zuritzsky project; and Fox’s Us And Them. In some cases, the choice of location was dictated by talent (like Fox). In others, the producers felt it was hard to fake New York or the East Coast in Los Angeles, where virtually all comedy broadcast series have been filming. The 2010 New York filming tax program, which already led to the explosion of NY drama pilot production from zero pilots in 2010 to 11 last year, is helping rein in production costs, which are still higher than a Los Angeles-based half-hour pilot but not by as much as before. With the comedy boon, New York managed to post a new record of 13 pilots, though the number of dramas slipped from 11 to eight.
We’re about a week from starting to get more definitive feedback on this year’s pilots when the networks start screening them. That is probably my favorite part of pilot season, when dark horses and underdogs that had stayed largely under the radar suddenly race to the front of the pack. Until then, here are how pilots stack up now based on inherently subjective intel.
Chuck Lorre’s Mom stamped its ticket to the fall schedule with a very well received taping on Friday night, so there goes the assured multi-camera CBS slot for next season, likely Mondays 8:30 PM. The Robin Williams starrer Crazy Ones looks pretty solid on the single-camera side. If CBS decides to go with multiple new multi-camera series, Friends With Better Lives and the untitled Greg Garcia project appear particularly strong (It is still early on the Tad Quill pilot starring Matthew Broderick). On the single-camera side, The McCarthys has buzz, with Ex-Men, Bad Teacher, Super Clyde and Rottenberg/Zuritsky also in the mix.
On the drama side, Beverly Hills Cop is entering the screening stage as a frontrunner. Hostages also looks strong, possibly for midseason given its serialized nature. The in-house CBS contenders include the NCIS: LA spinoff, The Surgeon General and The Ordained, while Intelligence is led by the type of hunky actor, Josh Holloway, CBS brass love. (Alex O’Loughlin anyone?) Wild cards include Hart Hanson’s Backstrom.
There is exactly one month to go until the broadcast networks begin to unveil their 2013-14 schedules to advertisers during premiere week. The first completed pilots have just started to come in, but we’re still a couple of weeks away from getting a more realistic picture of the this year’s pilot standings. For now, the info we share is based on buzz (thus the headline), and early insights from table reads, tapings, dailies and rough cuts. So don’t forget to pick up a large grain of salt before reading this. Now that you have been warned:
Chuck Lorre has done it again. Not that his clout alone was not enough to make his newest pilot Mom an instant frontrunner for the fall schedule the day it was greenlighted by CBS in December. Still, for CBS’ peace of mind, they were hoping the show would come together well. The network brass just got their wish with a rousing table read. The only remaining question surrounding Mom is where it will land on the schedule. I hear Monday 8:30 PM as a likely possibility. It makes a lot of sense, as How I Met Your Mother is already a strong launching pad that most recently helped establish 2 Broke Girls last year. Next season, the veteran comedy is expected to get extra sizzle from the fact that it is going into its final season that will finally reveal who the mother is. Plus, HIMYM and Mom will likely share sensibilities as they share the same director, Pam Fryman. As I wrote in my first early pilot buzz post, CBS brass appear very pleased with their comedy development this season, so if they pick up more multi-camera pilots, Friends With Better Lives is hot, and the Greg Garcia multi-camera pilot starring Will Arnett is coming off a solid table read. Competition is shaping to be as cutthroat on the single-camera side where CBS will likely opt for at least two shows to form a single-camera block. Greg Garcia’s Super Clyde was an early standout, with Crazy Ones boasting an in-form Robin Williams. The Bad Teacher remake and Irish American family comedy The McCarthys also seem to be in the mix, with the long-brewing Rob Greenberg pilot and Rottenberg/Zuritsky garnering positive very early buzz.
Peter Berg has closed a deal to direct Damon Lindelof’s HBO drama pilot The Leftovers based on Tom Perrotta’s 2011 book. In addition, Berg and his producing partner, Sarah Aubrey, will serve as executive producers on the pilot as well as the series, should it go forward, alongside Lindelof, Perrotta, Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger. The project, co-written by Lindelof and Perrotta, takes place after the Rapture happens but not quite like it’s supposed to. It is the story of the people who didn’t make the cut… and a world that will never be the same. The pilot is produced by Warner Bros. TV where Lindelof, who will serve as showrunner on Leftovers, is under a rich overall deal. Berg, who also is directing and exec producing the NBC pilot Bloodline, is with WME.
In what would be his first series regular role, Kenneth Choi (Sons Of Anarchy, Glee, 24) has been cast in NBC’s drama pilot Ironside, a reboot of the 1967 series. Written by Mike Caleo and directed by Peter Horton, it centers on Robert T. Ironside (Blair Underwood), a tough, sexy and acerbic police detective relegated to a wheelchair after a shooting who is hardly limited by his disability as he pushes and prods his hand-picked team to solve the most difficult cases. Choi will play Captain Ed Rollins, Ironside’s supervisor. Despite their push/pull relationship Ed and Ironside have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for each other. Choi, repped by Mosaic, TalentWorks and attorney Derek Kroeger, was recently seen in Captain America 2 and next co-stars in Wolf Of Wall Street.
In another recent NBC drama pilot casting, another 24 alum, Tzi Ma, will appear opposite Skyler Samuels in NBC‘s drama pilot Bloodline. Written by David Graziano and directed by Peter Berg, Bloodline is described as a pulpy, highly stylized look into the cheeky world of Bird Benson (Samuels), a smart, irreverent and strong young girl who, due to an accident of birth, finds herself caught in the middle of an epic struggle between two warrior families set against the backdrop of modern suburbia. Ma plays Charles Hwang, Bird’s trainer and mentor.
Private Practice alumna Audra McDonald has been cast in the CBS drama pilot The Ordained, executive produced by Frank Marshall. Directed by RJ Cutler from a script by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Ordained centers on Tom Reilly (Charlie Cox), the son of a Kennedy-esque family who leaves the priesthood and becomes a lawyer at a top New York firm to prevent his politician sister from being assassinated. McDonald will play Anthea, a senior litigator at the firm. McDonald is the second Private Practice co-star to book a pilot; KaDee Strickland is in NBC’s Bloodline.
After the current broadcast season has failed to produce runaway hits, the networks are going back to the drawing board, with several increasing the number of pilots for next season. The five broadcast networks have ordered a total of 98 pilots (including straight-to-series orders in lieu of pilots) this season, up 14% from last year and close to the highs of just more than 100 pilots in the early 2000s, when we had six broadcast networks. This year’s tally extends an upward trend — 79 pilots in 2011, 86 in 2012 and 98 now. The volume increase this year is driven primarily by NBC and CBS, whose orders went up by double digits vs. last year, while ABC and the CW kept the overall number of pilots the same and Fox picked up only one more. Here is a rundown on the networks needs and picks for next season.
Related: Full Primetime Pilot Panic Listings
CBS is sending confusing signals this pilot season. The company has ordered 23 pilots (12 comedies and 11 dramas) vs. 15 (8 comedies and 7 dramas) last season, a whopping 53% increase. But then CBS Corp chief Les Moonves last week, while noting that the network “ordered a couple of more pilots than in previous years,” suggested that “there aren’t going to be a lot of new shows” on CBS’ schedule for next season. His remarks sent chills up the spines of producers who have pilots at the network. As the most stable broadcast network, CBS is traditionally among the hardest to land a new series on. But this year, with so many pilots for what appear to be very few slots, the odds are even slimmer. Competition is especially fierce on the comedy side, where two spots are likely already penciled in for Chuck Lorre’s Mom and one of Greg Garcia’s two pilots. After flirting with the idea of expanding the Thursday comedy block to two hours last season, CBS ultimately stuck to its current configuration of four comedies on Monday and two on Thursday. But with 12 comedy pilots, the network may add more half-hours to the schedule, on Thursday or another night as four of its existing series — The Big Bang Theory, 2 Broke Girls, How I Met Your Mother and Mike & Molly — are assured to return and CBS also is working on a Two And A Half Men renewal. With so many single-camera comedy pilots, CBS is certain to pick up at least one single-camera comedy series. The question is whether the network will go for a single-camera block or mix a single-camera show with its lineup of multi-camera sitcoms. CBS’ drama needs are limited too. With only a couple of shows facing possible cancellation — CSI: NY, whose end appears very likely, freshman Vegas and maybe The Mentalist — there won’t be many hour holes on CBS’ schedule next fall. Its drama choices are a mix of legal (The Advocates), cop (Beverly Hills Cop, Backstrom) and medical (The Surgeon General) procedurals and a couple of serialized thrillers (Hostages, The Ordained).
BREAKING: Well that didn’t take long. Days after Deadline broke the story that Mean Girls hemer Mark Waters would direct his Heathers writer brother Daniel Waters’ script adaptation of a new film franchise based on the six-volume Richelle Mead young adult novel series Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters, The Weinstein Company has sewn up a domestic rights deal at Berlin. Zoey Deutch (Beautiful Creatures) and Australian newcomer Lucy Fry will play the title characters, and Russian star Danila Kozlovski will play the male lead. Here’s the official announcement, but click on the link from Deadline’s original break to really get a feel for the subject matter. Rights are being sold by IM Global, which is financing with Reliance Entertainment.
Berlin – February 10, 2013 – The Weinstein Company (TWC) has acquired the U.S. Distribution rights to BLOOD SISTERS, the first feature film installment of the highly successful VAMPIRE ACADEMY series of young adult books from financiers Reliance Entertainment and IM Global.
BLOOD SISTERS, to be directed by Mark Waters (“Mean Girls”, “Spiderwick Chronicles”), is based on the first book in author Richelle Mead’s hugely successful series of books, with the screenplay written by Dan Waters (“Batman Returns”, “Heathers”). The VAMPIRE ACADEMY book series is a worldwide phenomenon, with over 8 million copies in print across 35 countries. To date there are 6 books in the series, with the last 4 on the NY Times Best Sellers list.
The deal was negotiated over
EXCLUSIVE: Hoping to tap a new vein in the young adult vampire genre that made Twilight Saga such a global hit, Reliance Entertainment and IM Global are co-financing the first installment of a new film franchise based on the six-volume Richelle Mead young adult novel series that will come to the screen as Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters. Daniel Waters, who wrote the iconic Sundance black comedy Heathers, has written the script for the first movie. His brother, Mean Girls helmer Mark Waters, will direct the film. Casting is in full swing for a summer shoot.
An international search led the producers to Zoey Deutch (Beautiful Creatures) and Australian newcomer Lucy Fry. They will play lead characters Rose and Lissa alongside Russian star Danila Kozlovski (We Are From The Future,) who will play the role of Dimitri.
The film will be produced by Michael Preger and his Preger Entertainment banner, Angry Films’ Don Murphy and Susan Montford, and Kintop Pictures’ Deepak Nayer. IM Global’s Stuart Ford is executive producer.
All six books have been bestsellers on The New York Times young adult list since the series debuted in 2007. Two of the books have been turned into graphic novels. The books tell the tale of Rose Hathaway, a 17-year-old girl who has a mental and spiritual bond with her vampire best friend Lissa. The two girls attend a special school for Vampires who struggle …
It is an unwritten rule of network development — if a new show from a genre not currently on TV becomes a hit in the fall, a lot of pilots in that milieu get ordered the following season as networks try to replicate the success.
Case in point this year — NBC‘s Revolution. J.J. Abrams/Eric Kripke’s post-apocalyptic series emerged as the biggest hit of the fall, and now the networks are betting heavily on other dramas set in the future. Today alone, three futuristic hourlong pilots received a green light, including one from Abrams, an untitled project at Fox with Fringe showrunner J.H. Wyman set in the near future when all LAPD officers are partnered with highly evolved human-like androids. The other two were at the CW — The Hundred, which has a post-apocalyptic setting similar to Revolution, and Oxygen. The Hundred takes place 97 years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization when a spaceship with the human survivors sends 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth to investigate the possibility of re-colonizing the planet. Oxygen is in the vein of District 9 ans is about a human society where a group of alien visitors are kept in prison. The CW has been the most aggressive in pursuing futuristic dramas. In addition to The Hundred and Oxygen, the network has ordered a second pilot for the Hunger Games-esque The Selection, which is set 300 years into the future. After building its brand mainly on contemporary teen soaps, the CW has fully embraced genre and high-concept dramas this season. Out of its six pilots only one, Taylor Hackford’s naval base-set Company Town, reflects present America. In addition to the three futuristic dramas, the network also has backdoor pilot The Originals, a spinoff from hit vampire drama The Vampire Diaries, and Reign, about 16th century Mary Queen of Scots.
2ND UPDATE 5:30 PM: NBC has added another drama pilot to its roster, from Life creator/executive producer Rand Ravich. The untitled drama project, produced by 20th Century Fox TV, is described as an emotionally charged action thriller set in and around the world of Washington DC. It follows an idealistic Secret Service agent who finds himself at the epicenter of an international crisis on his first day on the job. He will need to cross moral and legal lines as he navigates the highest levels of power and corruption on his search for the truth. Ravich is executive producing with his producing partner Far Shariat, making a return to NBC where he landed his first series, the 2007 drama Life.
UPDATE 4:30 PM: It has been a busy pickup day at NBC. The network just ordered four more pilots: the Carlton Cuse-produced drama The Sixth Gun and comedies from Nurse Jackie co-creator Liz Brixius, Up All Night executive producer DJ Nash and The Office‘s Justin Spitzer. All four hail from Universal TV.
Related: NBC Greenlights Three Comedy Pilots
ABOUT A BOY (single-camera)
PICKED UP TO SERIES
STUDIO: Universal TV/True Jack Prods/Working Title/Tribeca Prods
TEAM: Jason Katims (w, ep), Michelle Lee (p), Jon Favreau (d)
LOGLINE: Follows the relationship between a bachelor man-child and the young boy who moves in next door with his kooky single mother.
CAST: David Walton, Minnie Driver, Anjelah N. Johnson, Benjamin Stockham, Al Madrigal
STUDIO: Universal TV/Gary Sanchez Prods
TEAM: Leslye Headland (w, ep), Will Ferrell (ep), Adam McKay (ep), Chris Henchy (ep), Jessica Elbaum (ep), Owen Burke (ep), Krysten Ritter (p)
LOGLINE: An idealistic “working girl” assistant is pulled between her colleague (“work husband”) and her real-life fiance while trying to manage a demanding (translation: crazy) boss. Based on a play by Headland.
CAST: Krysten Ritter, Alfred Molina, Zach Cregger, Peter Cambor, Vinette Robinson
STUDIO: Sony Pictures TV/Fedora Entertainment
TEAM: Andrew Leeds (w, ep), David Lampson (w, ep), Peter Tolan (ep), Michael Wimer (ep), Matt Tarses (ep), David Wain (d)
LOGLINE: Stories from Brenda Miller’s (Ellie Kemper) past and present are interwoven to give a unique portrait of how a chubby, awkward, but incredibly confident 13-year-old grew up to be a 31-year-old woman who still marches to the beat of her own drum.
CAST: Ellie Kemper, Stephnie Weir, Da’vine Joy Randolph
DONOR PARTY (single-camera)
STUDIO: Lionsgate/Media Talent Group/Universal Television
TEAM: Alex Schemmer (w, ep), Geyer Kosinski (ep), Todd Holland (d, ep), Karey Burke (ep)
LOGLINE: Ensemble is focused on an irresponsible man forced to grow up when he discovers he has children resulting from his days as a sperm donor. A new family unit develops when a …
EXCLUSIVE: TV writer David Graziano has set up two drama projects, The Sixth Family at Cinemax produced by Warner Horizon, and Bloodline at NBC, from Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey’s Film 44 and Universal TV. After working on a string of series, including Southland, Lie To Me, which he co-ran, Terra Nova and Awake, Graziano focused on development this season, resulting in the two sales. He is writing/executive producing both projects.
Based on true stories from the streets of South Brooklyn, The Sixth Family drama is about the changing face of organized crime in the wake of 9/11. The project, whose title riffs on New York’s Five Families, the city’s infamous Italian mafia clans, is inspired by some of Graziano’s personal relationships developed over the years with people on both sides of the law stemming back to his youth in his hometown of Brooklyn.