New broadcast entertainment chiefs Bob Greenblatt and Paul Lee are shaking things up this pilot season with some out-of-the-box pilot pickup choices. The latest is an order just made by Greenblatt at NBC for Grimm, described as a dark but fantastical cop drama about a world in which characters inspired by Grimm’s Fairy Tales exist. It comes from Angel co-creator David Greenwalt and the show’s writer Jim Kouf. Greenblatt previously picked up to pilot Ron Moore’s drama pilot 17th Precinct, a cop drama set in a town where magic rules over science, 1960s drama Playboy and the Broadway show-themed Smash, among others. Meanwhile, Lee has Poe, a crime procedural with Edgar Allan Poe set in 1840s Boston and 1960s drama pilot Pan Am. Grimm is being produced by UMS and Sean Hayes’ Hazy Mills. Greenwalt and Kouf are executive producing with Hayes and his producing partner Todd Milliner.
Paul Lee is going to take creative risks, and he is going to empower showrunners, the new ABC president said during the network’s portion of TCA today where he also defined the ABC brand as he sees it: “a smart network with a huge amount of heart and culturally defining shows”
“My real ambition is to make ABC Studios and ABC a real showrunner culture,” Lee said, stressing the fact that he is an ex-showrunner himself. “From my perspective, the ability to allow showrunners to take risks, and for us to give them the air support that they can do that, is one of the most important parts of my job… So from my perspective, that combination between a potent brand and empowered showrunners can really give us a chance to succeed going forward into the future.”
Early in the morning, ABC announced the early renewal of 6 series, Modern Family, The Middle, Cougar Town, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Castle. Lee said he wasn’t concerned by the big ratings dropoff for Cougar Town after Modern Family, stressing that the sophomore comedy starring Courteney Cox “has found its voice.”
Unlike the same time last year when Modern Family, The Middle and Cougar Town were handed early renewals, today’s pickup announcement didn’t include any freshman shows, which have largely underperformed. Two first-year shows received praise from Lee. He called Detroit 1-8-7, “a gritty, brilliantly written show which we’re very proud of”, a “very, very high-quality show” that “gets better” and Better with You “a really funny show.” But Lee said he doesn’t expect the network to make any decisions on the future of its freshman shows “for two to three months.”