It was all American Idol (2.7/8) as usual last night on Fox with things up a bit from last week. The 2-hour live show saw this season’s Top 12 belting out tunes, including Emily Piriz taking on Jennifer Lopez’s “Let’s Get Loud” right in front of the judge herself. It also saw Idol bopping up 4% from last week’s demo rating and steady in total viewers with 10.5 million, in line with the 10.6 million total from the show’s February 26 episode. Fox won the night among the key demo and among total viewers. CBS’ Criminal Minds was tops for the night in total viewers with 11.37 million and second in the key demo with a 2.6/7, an 18% rise over last week. Criminal Minds did beat Idol again in viewers head-to-head, as the Fox show pulled in 10.58 million during their common hour. The demo result was also the closest the CBS show has ever gotten to Idol.
Here is Deadline’s annual list of The Overachievers Of Pilot Season. For anyone, landing a pilot is a major accomplishment. These selected few individuals/production companies took that achievement to the next level.
Related: Primetime Pilot Panic!
With marquee comedy clients including Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Kevin Hart, 3 Arts has been building a strong TV production business. The management/production company has set a new personal record this season with nine greenlights. That includes one straight-to-series order for the Tina Fey/Robert Carlock comedy Tooken at NBC, one pilot/series track order at Fox for Cabot College, from Matt Hubbard, Fey and Carlock, and five more pilots: the comedies untitled Kevin Hart project at ABC, Amy Poehler’s Old Soul and Love Is Relative at NBC and Tom Papa’s More Time With the Family at CBS, plus untitled Richard LaGravenese drama at ABC. Additionally, three 3 Arts pilots from last season, Mulaney and Mr. Robinson, recently received series orders for next season.
Amblin TV has one pilot/series track order at Fox for drama Red Band Society, starring Octavia Spencer, and pilot orders for drama The Visitors at ABC and comedy The Money Pit at NBC. Additionally, the company scored a straight-to-series order this season for sci-fi drama Extant, which landed Halle Berry as the lead, for a summer launch.
Related: PILOT SEASON: How Many Orders Is Each Broadcast Network Eyeing This Year
Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly‘s Timberman-Beverly has a straight-to-series order at ABC for untitled David O. Russell/Susannah Grant drama and three pilots at CBS, comedy The Odd Couple starring Matthew Perry and untitled John Cusack and David Marshall Grant drama projects.
Aaron Kaplan‘s one-man indie shop Kapital Entertainment landed a pilot order with series penalty at ABC for Secrets & Lies, toplined by Ryan Phillippe, and pilot orders for drama The Mysteries of Laura starring Debra Messing at NBC and comedy Dead Boss starring Jane Krakowski at Fox.
Actor-comedian-musician Nick Thune is set as the young male lead opposite Natasha Lyonne in NBC‘s single-camera comedy pilot Old Soul. Co-created by Amy Poehler, Josh Bycel and Jonathan Fener and directed by David Wain, Old Soul centers on a reformed wild child, Nadia (Lyonne), who has a business caring for the elderly and feels she has more in common with her colorful old clients than she does with people her age. Thune, repped by 3 Arts and WME, will play Nadia’s roommate and friend who shares her offbeat sense of humor.
Related: 2014 NBC Pilots
Doctor Who‘s Karen Gillan has been cast as the lead in ABC/Warner Bros. TV single-camera comedy pilot Selfie. Julie Anne Robinson is set to direct the pilot from Suburgatory creator/executive producer Emily Kapnek. It centers on Eliza Dooley (Gillan), a self-obsessed, twentysomething who is more concerned with “likes” than being liked. After suffering a very public and humiliating breakup, she becomes the subject of a viral video and suddenly has more social media “followers” than she ever imagined — but for all the wrong reasons. She enlists the help of a marketing expert at her company to help repair her tarnished image. Scotland native Gillan, best known for her role as Amy Pond on the long-running British sci-fi drama Doctor Who, recently recurred on the Adult Swim comedy NTSF:SD:SUV. Repped by UTA and Troika, she next stars in the features Guardians Of The Galaxy and Oculus. Robinson, repped by UTA, 3 Arts and UK’s Independent Talent Group, has directed multiple episodes of Kapnek’s current ABC/WBTV comedy series Suburgatory. She also helmed the pilots of two ABC comedy series, The Middle, produced by WBTV, and How To Live With Your Parents.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots
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Bob Costas Returns To Sochi Olympics Coverage Monday (Photo)
By Lisa De Moraes – Bob Costas returned to the NBC Olympics studios at the International Broadcast Center in Sochi, Russia, today to prepare to resume his primetime and late night hosting duties tomorrow night.
‘Snake Salvation’ Star Dead From Snake Bite; NatGeo To Air Tribute Episode
By Jen Yamato – With the first season fully filmed National Geographic had no plans for a second season of Snake Salvation, says a network rep. Now in the wake of Jamie Coots‘ death NatGeo is working up a special tribute episode “so people can understand Pastor Jamie and his method of worship and see that he died doing what he believed was his calling.”
Actors Added To Fox’s Matt Hubbard, ABC’s Jeff Lowell Comedy Pilots
By Nellie Andreeva – Ely Henry (Suburgatory) and Asif Ali have been cast as leads in Cabot College, Fox‘s multi-camera comedy pilot from Matt Hubbard, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock.
R.I.P. ‘The Waltons’ Patriarch Ralph Waite
By The Deadline Team – The man who played the patriarch on CBS’ long-running series The Waltons has died. Ralph Waite was 85. He also had been recurring since 2008 as Papa Gibbs, the father of Mark Harmon’s character, on NCIS.
Greta Gerwig To Topline CBS’ ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Spinoff
By Nellie Andreeva – Indie darling Greta Gerwig will lead the cast of How I Met Your Dad, CBS’ spinoff from long-running comedy series How I Met Your Mother.
Ely Henry (Suburgatory) and Asif Ali have been cast as leads in Cabot College, Fox‘s multi-camera comedy pilot from Matt Hubbard, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. Directed by Pam Fryman, the comedy is set at a women’s college that begins accepting men for the first time. Henry, repped by David Dean Management, and Ali, repped by David Shapira & Assoc. and Aligned Entertainment, will play two of the four male freshmen recently admitted to Cabot College.
You can’t have an Entourage movie without Ari Gold and you can’t have the bellowing superagent without his assistant Lloyd. Jeremy Piven has been in place to reprise his role from the HBO series in the Warner Bros pic for awhile and now Rex Lee has formally signed on to join him on the big screen. The actor’s deal for the Entourage movie closed last week around the same time that Perrey Reeves inked her deal to return as Mrs Ari. Lee joined Piven, Reeves, Adrian Grenier and the other core cast for their first table read on January 30. The actor first appeared in Season 2 of the TV series, which ran from 2004 – 2011, in a guest-starring role but soon became an essential regular. The film, which successfully brought back the core cast from the series despite a salary standoff last year, is directed by series creator Doug Ellin. Lee is also going to be appearing in the upcoming ABC Family series Young & Hungry, along with Emily Osment and executive produced by Ashley Tisdale. Lee previously co-starred on ABC’s Suburgatory for two seasons until his exit last May. Rex Lee is repped by APA, Thruline Entertainment and attorney James Feldman
Awkward creator Lauren Iungerich is back on pilot duty with a pickup at ABC for her comedy Damaged Goods, which had a pilot production commitment. It is one of two pilot orders to single-camera comedies from female creators at ABC this morning, along with the My Fair Lady-esque Selfie, by Suburgatory creator Emily Kapnek. With Suburgatory not doing well with its rebooted third season, tying a series low last night, is ABC eyeing a successor in Selfie? Both pilots hail from Warner Bros TV, where Kapnek is under an overall deal through her Piece Of Pie Prods. and Iungerich had a script deal. Damaged Goods is described as a comedy about the sexual politics that have changed between men and women in this post-feminist era.
Related: ABC Pilots 2014
Inspired by My Fair Lady, Selfie tells the story of a self-obsessed twentysomething woman who is more concerned with “likes” than being liked. After suffering a very public and humiliating breakup, she becomes the subject of a viral video and suddenly has more social media “followers” than she ever imagined — but for all the wrong reasons. She enlists the help of a marketing expert at her company to help repair her tarnished image. This brings the number of ABC comedy pilots to 11.
Disney/ABC Television Group has chosen eight scribes for its 2014 Writing Program. Chosen from a field of nearly 2,000 applications, this year’s participants are comedy writers Lucas Brown Eyes (Pine Ridge Agency, SD), Lewaa Nasserdeen (Alberta, Canada) and Devanshi Patel (Pittsburgh, PA). On the drama side are Tamara Carter (Brooklyn, NY), April Fitzsimmons (Helena, MT), Nancy Kiu (Boston, MA), Ubah Mohamad (Queens, NY), and Davy Perez (Los Angeles, CA).
After lengthy negotiations, Fox has given a six-episode order to single-camera comedy Weird Loners, from writer Michael Weithorn, who wrote the project on spec and sold it to Fox. It was then laid off at 20th TV, with studio-based director-producer Jake Kasdan coming on board to executive produce alongside Weithorn. Weird Loners is the story of four relationship-phobic people who are unexpectedly thrust into one another’s lives and form an unlikely bond in a townhouse in Queens, NY.
Additionally, Fox has given pilot orders to comedies Dead Boss and Sober Companion, both geared toward series. Single-camera Dead Boss, which had a put pilot commitment, hails from Warner Bros TV and Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment. An adaptation of the BBC3 series created by Sharon Horgan and Holly Walsh and starring Horgan, Dead Boss was written by Patricia Breen (Suburgatory). It is a comedic mystery that finds overachiever Helen Stephens wrongfully convicted of murdering her boss and forced to rely on her train wreck of a sister to prove her innocence. Breen is executive producing with Horgan and Kaplan. This is the fourth Horgan/Kaplan project to go to pilot, following Pulling — also based on a Horgan British series — Bad Mom and Bad Management, all three at ABC. It is Kaplan’s second pilot order this season, along with The Mysteries Of Laura at NBC. He also has series …
With the February 26 premiere of ABC’s new comedy Mixology, executive producer Ryan Seacrest makes his first foray into scripted series. At today’s TCA, Seacrest denied that this move into scripted foreshadows the death of reality TV.
“Not anytime soon,” Seacrest said, appearing on the panel with EPs John Lucas and Scott Moore (feature scribes new to TV) and the cast of 10 regulars. “I’m reading about Kim Kardashian every day.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” an audience member responded.
“It’s my pleasure. Look, you asked,” Seacrest joked back. But he acknowledged that his production company “has a balance slate, we do produce a lot of unscripted . . . [but] we hope to achieve balance.”
Set in a Manhattan bar, the 13 episodes will track one night in the lives of five young men and 15 young women looking for love. Lucas and Moore said that while the season arc takes place over a single evening, the audience will come to know the characters through flashbacks in the style of Lost. (After the session, Moore declined to say whether a second season of the show would bring in an entirely new set of characters.)
In May, ABC‘s last-minute third-season renewal of Suburgatory as midseason replacement came at a price: lower license fee and the exit of Alan Tudyk and Rex Lee as series regulars. Lee played the high school’s guidance counselor and Tudyk was Jeremy Sisto’s country-clubbing dentist pal. Suburgatory launched well in the fall of 2011 but lost steam in its second season (It’s third-season return, on Wednesday, clocked 5.3 million viewers and a 1.6 demo rating, off The Middle’s 7.5 million viewers and 1.8 rating). Not surpringly, a Q&A session at the TCA Winter TV Press Tour began with a series of “bummer questions.”
EXCLUSIVE: Comedy Central is betting big on actress-comedian Natasha Leggero. The comedian, who garnered a lot of attention with her wild set as a roaster at last year’s Comedy Central Roast Of James Franco, is a voice cast member of Comedy Central’s animated series Brickleberry and a recurring guest panelist on the network’s breakout new late-night show, @midnight. Now Comedy Central has greenlighted a scripted pilot starring and executive produced by Leggero and a stand-up special headlined by her.
The pilot, Another Period, hails from Ben Stiller’s Red Hour, with Drunk History co-creator/director Jeremy Konner directing. It was created by and stars Leggero and Riki Lindhome as Victorian-era heiresses. Shot reality style, the comedy follows the misadventures of Newport’s first family, The Bellacourts, a family with nothing to offer the world, but who have so much money that it doesn’t matter. The show centers around the oldest Bellacourt sisters, Lillian (Leggero) and Beatrice (Lindhome), who care only about how they look, what parties they are invited to and becoming famous — which is a lot harder in 1902. Leggero and Lindhome executive produce with Konner and Red Hour. Leggero previously starred on the first season of Red Hour’s popular online series Burning Love.
The second half of the 2013-14 TV season kicked off Thursday night with the series bow of ABC’s The Assets and season debut of The Taste. Here’s a rundown of the midseason shows that will hit the airwaves for the first time during between now and May 31, along with those returning for new seasons or coming off hiatus:
Downton Abbey (PBS, Season 4 premiere)
Revenge (ABC, returns from hiatus)
The Bachelor (ABC, season premiere)
Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family, Season 4B premiere)
Intelligence (CBS, series premiere; regular slot debut at 10 PM Monday, January 7)
Ravenswood (ABC Family, Season 1B premiere)
Justified (FX, Season 5 premiere)
Killer Women (ABC, series premiere)
Cougar Town (TBS, Season 5 premiere)
Psych (USA, Season 8 premiere)
Chicago PD (NBC, series premiere)
The Spoils of Babylon (IFC, limited series premiere)
Enlisted (Fox, series premiere)
Banshee (Cinemax, Season 2 premiere)
Helix (Syfy, series premiere)
Shameless (Showtime, Season 4 premiere)
True Detective (HBO, series premiere)
Girls (HBO Season 3 premiere)
House of Lies (Showtime, Season 3 premiere)
Episodes (Showtime, Season 3 premiere)