I’ve been reporting these and dribs and drabs but here is a full list:
ABC: DRAMAS Identity, Hallelujah, Grace, Georgetown, Poe, Partners. COMEDIES: My Freakin’ Family, Other People’s Kids, Bad Mom, Lost & Found.
NBC: DRAMAS Wonder Woman, Reconstruction, A Mann’s World, Metro, 17the Precinct; COMEDIES: Brave New World, I Hate That I Love You, Untitled Kari Lizer, Lovelives, My Life As An Experiment, Family Practice (aka Dan Goor)
The Tudors alumna Natalie Dormer is set as the female lead opposite Chris Egan in ABC’s drama pilot Poe. The project, from Warner Bros. TV and Lin Pictures, is a crime procedural following Edgar Allan Poe (Egan), the world’s very first detective, as he uses unconventional methods to investigate dark mysteries in 1840s Boston. Dormer, repped by ICM and U.K.’s United Agents, will play Celeste, a beautiful spitfire, with a firm moral center – the logical yin to Poe’s wildly theoretical yang. She owns the newspaper for which Poe writes, having inherited it from her fiancé who died in mysterious circumstances.
Judith Light has been tapped for a regular role in ABC’s half-hour pilot Other People’s Kids. The multicamera comedy, written by Hunter Covington and directed by Michael Fresco, centers on Adam (Jesse Bradford), a 32-year-old guy with no responsibilities who suddenly finds himself with an insta-family when he falls in love with an older woman, Michelle (Bonnie Sommerville) who has two kids, an ex-husband, and ex-in-laws. Light, repped by Gersh and TAO Management, will play Michelle’s ex-mother-in-law, an eccentric older woman living with her lover who likes to keep all 10 fingers deep in family matters.
In her first regular TV series gig, Ashley Judd is close to a deal to topline ABC’s action series Missing (aka Safe aka Hall of Mirrors). The project, from feature writer Greg Poirier, was once slated for summer but now eyes a fall launch, with early September as a possibility. Missing, whose premise somewhat echoes the Liam Neeson starrer Taken, centers on Becca Winstone (Judd), a devoted single mom who, after her 18-year-old son disappears in Italy where he’d been working on architecture fellowship, takes it upon herself to travel to Europe and track him down. It soon becomes clear that Winstone is a former CIA agent who will stop at nothing to bring her son home alive. Steve Shill, who won an Emmy in August for his directing work on Dexter, is on board to direct multiple episodes of the series, including the opener. He will also executive produce with Poirier, Grant Scharbo and Gina Matthews. Production is scheduled to begin late next month in Rome, Vienna and Prague. Missing, from ABC Studios and Matthews and Scharbo’s Little Engine Prods., was put on fast-track development in early fall with an order for 3-5 backup scripts. WME-repped Judd next stars in the Warner Bros. film Dolphin Tale. Her memoir All That is Bitter & Sweet is being released on April 5. Judd’s only major series gig until now was a recurring role on Sisters.
EXCLUSIVE: Jaume Collet-Serra, director of the upcoming thriller Unknown starring Liam Neeson, will make his TV directing debut with the ABC pilot The River, a horror drama from Paranormal Activity writer-director Oren Peli. Described as being in the mold of Paranormal Activity, The River centers on a family who travels to the deep Amazon to locate and rescue their missing father. The project is right in Collet-Serra’s wheelhouse. Before Unknown, which opens on Friday, he directed the horror thrillers Orphan and House of Wax. Peli co-wrote the first draft with Paranormal Activity 2 scribe Michael Perry. Heroes veteran and Kings creator Michael Green then did a p.1 rewrite, which was greenlighted to pilot.
Spanish-born Collet-Serra, repped by CAA, is negotiating to direct Harker, a spec script by Lee Shipman & Brian McGreevy acquired by Warner Bros. for Appian Way’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran to produce with Mad Hatter Entertainment’s Michael Connolly. The project is described as a re-imagining of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
British helmer Mark Mylod (Entourage), who directed the pilots for the U.K. series Shameless and its U.S. version on Showtime, has signed on to direct ABC’s drama pilot Once Upon a Time. The project, from Lost executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, centers on a woman with a troubled past who is drawn into a small town in Maine where the magic and mystery of Fairy Tales just may be real.
John Dahl, who has helmed multiple episodes of Dexter, Californication and Justified, is set to make his pilot directing debut with the CW’s Cooper and Stone. The pilot, from writer-exec producer Laurie Arent and CBS TV Studios, is about two smart young female detectives on Chicago’s North Side who are best friends, equally adept at discussing fashion, music, pop culture as they are solving homicides. At the CW, UTA-repped Dahl has directed episodes of The Vampire Diaries and Hellcats.
Veteran Saturday Night Live helmer Beth McCathy-Miller will direct Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen’s multicamera comedy pilot for ABC Work It, from Warner Bros. TV. It centers on two out-of-work car salesmen who realize that it is now a woman’s world and decide that in order to find work again and succeed they are going to have to dress as women to get jobs as pharmaceuticals reps. This is the second … Read More »
From Evelyn Salt to Emily Thorn: Feature director Phillip Noyce is returning to pilot directing duty with ABC’s Revenge. Like Noyce’s most recent feature assignment, the Angelina Jolie starrer Salt, Revenge has a strong woman at its center. Written by Swingtown creator Mike Kelley, it is a contemporary re-imagening of Alexandre Dumas, pere’s The Count of Monte Cristo from a female perspective and centers on Emily Thorn, a mysterious young woman who comes to the Hamptons to exact revenge on the people who destroyed her family. ABC Studios and Temple Hill are producing. On the TV side, UTA-repped Noyce previously directed the pilots for Showtime’s Brotherhood and Fox’s Try Calling. He also executive produces the FX drama series Lights Out and directed an episode of HBO’s upcoming drama series Luck starring Dustin Hoffman.
At ABC, it feels a lot like 2004 this pilot season. Seven years ago, ABC had one of those lighting-in-a-bottle development cycle that resulted in the launch of 3 mega-hit new series in a single season – Marc Cherry’s Desperate Housewives, Shonda Rhimes’ Grey’s Anatomy and J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof’s Lost.
In a twist of a development fate, ABC’s drama pilot slate this year is highlighted by Cherry and Rhimes’s first creations since Housewives and Grey’s/spinoff Private Practice, respectively: Cherry has the small town drama pilot Hallelujah, and Rhimes penned an untitled drama pilot about a professional fixer. (Rhimes has exec produced other projects since, including series Off the Map and pilot Inside the Box, but this is the first script she has written.) Additionally, Lindelof was involved in the development of another ABC drama pilot this season, Once Upon a Time, from Lost executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. Read More »
The L Word co-creator/executive producer Ilene Chaiken has joined CBS’ private eye drama pilot Hail Mary as executive producer/showrunner. The project, created by Jeff Wadlow, is a buddy P.I. show set in Atlanta that focuses on a suburban single mom who teams up with a streetwise hustler to solve crimes. Wadlow, Chaiken and Joel Silver executive produce for Warner Bros. TV. Chaiken co-created and ran the Showtime drama The L Word. She is also behind the show’s reality spinoff, The Real L Word, which is now prepping its second season.
Meanwhile, Alex Graves, who just recreated prehistoric Earth as director of the pilot for Fox’s Terra Nova, is staying in the past with a directing gig on ABC’s drama pilot Poe. The crime procedural follows Edgar Allan Poe, the world’s very first detective, as he uses unconventional methods to investigate dark mysteries in 1840s Boston. Chris Hollier penned the project for Warner Bros. TV and Dan Lin’s Lin Pictures.
3RD UPDATE: ABC just greenlighted six drama pilots, including Marc Cherry’s Hallelujah, the Mark Gordon-produced Identity and Once Upon a Time, from Lost executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. Also picked up are the Oren Peli/Steven Spielberg collaboration The River, co-produced by DreamWorks TV, the Darren Star-produced Good Christian Bitches and the Count of Monte-Cristo-flavored Revenge, co-produced by Twilight producer Temple Hill. All six pilots hail from ABC’s sibling ABC Studios.
ABC programming chief Paul Lee received Cherry’s script, the Desperate Housewives creator’s first since the hit ABC dramedy, over the weekend and quickly moved with a pilot order. Hallelujah is set in the town of Hallelujah, Tenn., which is being torn apart by the forces of good and evil. Its fortunes change when a stranger comes to town, bringing justice, peace and possibly restoring faith. There is a music twist: the episodes of Hallelujah will be punctuated by songs sung by the gospel choir, which serves as a sort of Greek chorus. In addition to writing, Cherry is exec producing with Sabrina Wind. This marks the first production order for Cherry and Wind’s new production banner Wind Prods.
Identity, written by Eagle Eye scribe John Glenn, is based on an ITV/ITV Studio format and is an action procedural centered on an elite police unit formed to combat the explosion of identity-related crime. Glenn and Gordon are executive producing with Deb Spera and ITV’s Paul Buccieri.
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Teri Polo and Mather Zickel have landed co-starring roles on the ABC comedy pilot Man Up!. The project, from 100 Questions creator Chris Moynihan, ABC Studios and Tagline, is a look at what it takes to survive as a modern man, as told through the eyes of three best friends and the women in their lives. Moynihan and Zickel (I Love You, Man) will play two of the friends, while Polo will play the wife of the third friend, a playful super-mom who is addicted to Facebook. Additionally, Polo also booked the lead in the Hallmark comedic movie A Taste of Romance. The Little Fockers co-star recurs on Law & Order: Los Angeles, just wrapped the feature Beyond and is in pre-production on Material Lies.
Saturday Night Live alum Darrell Hammond is in negotiations to join the TBS pilot Hound Dogs, written and directed by Ron Shelton. Set in the world of minor league baseball, the project, which has moved from Sony TV to Warner Horizon, centers on minor league team the Nashville Hound Dogs and its endlessly upbeat general manager (Tom Verica), a gambling addict trying to outrun his past, as they try to handle life’s ups and downs, both in and out of the locker room. Hammond, who spent 14 years on SNL, more than any other … Read More »
UPDATED: Modern Family, meet Frickin’ Family. ABC has handed out a pilot order to My Frickin’ Family (previously Cowboys and Indians), a single-camera comedy from writer Erica Rivinoja. Additionally, the network has handed a pilot order to another single-camera family comedy, Bad Mom, from British writer-actress-comedienne Sharon Horgan and producer Aaron Kaplan.
Frickin’ Family, from ABC Studios and Brillstein Entertainment Partners, centers on two young parents whose lives change after they have a baby and the four grandparents with very different cultural backgrounds descend upon their lives to fight for the soul of their grandchild. Brillstein’s Peter Traugott is executive producing. Rivinoja’s credits include Grounded for Life and South Park.
Bad Mom, from ABC Studios and Kapital Entertainment, centers on Julia, a single mom whose two kids had been raised largely by her mom. When her mom decides to get her life back, Julia has to do it alone. Horgan, co-creator/star of the BBC comedy series Pulling, is executive producing with Aaron Kaplan. She is also expected to play a co-lead on the show. This marks the fifth pilot order for Kaplan’s 19-month old Kapital Entertainment.
The pilot pickup season is just starting in earnest, but we already have an unusually large number of creators with multiple pilot orders. Peter Tolan, Whitney Cummings, Michael Patrick King and the duo of Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen have each received two pickups. Tolan wrote and is executive producing Fox’s comedy The Council of Dads and NBC’s Brave New World, Cummings wrote, executive produces and stars in an untitled comedy pilot for NBC about a young couple and co-wrote/executive produces the CBS comedy pilot Two Broke Girls with King. King also has NBC drama pilot A Mann’s World, on which he is the writer-executive producer. Reich and Cohen wrote and are executive producing two ABC comedy pilots, Work It and Smothered. Besides evoking an automatic reaction of “Come on, spread the wealth” from other writers who have projects in contention, the embarrassment of riches for the in-demand creators with multiple pilots comes with inevitable complications, putting pressure on the writer-producers in the pilot phase and facing them and the networks with some difficult choices come May. Read More »
ABC has greenlighted another comedy pilot, Other People’s Kids. The project, from ABC Studios and Brillstein Entertainment Partners, was written by Hunter Covington and centers on a 32-year-old guy with no responsibilities who suddenly finds himself with an insta-family when he falls in love with an older woman who has 2 kids, an ex-husband, and ex-in-laws. Stacy Traub and Peter Traugott are executive producing.
New ABC programming chief Paul Lee has said that he believes in the multicamera sitcom form (He set out to prove it while at ABC Family with Melissa & Joey, which has done pretty well for the cable channel) and that he is mulling a return of ABC’s Friday TGIF sitcom block. He is certainly backing his words up with comedy pilot orders that have skewed heavily towards multicamera comedies so far with Other People’s Kids, Jack Burditt’s The Last Day of Man, Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen’s Work It and Smothered and Marisa Coughlan’s Lost and Found. And yet, ABC’s flagship comedy series that have already been renewed for next season – Modern Family, The Middle and Cougar Town – are all single-camera.
UPDATE 1:40 PM: After just picking up a period soap, Pan Am, ABC has also greenlighted a period PI show. In its second drama pilot order today and fourth overall, the network has picked up Poe, a crime procedural following Edgar Allan Poe, the world’s very first detective, as he uses unconventional methods to investigate dark mysteries in 1840s Boston. Chris Hollier (Kyle XY) penned the project for Warner Bros. TV and Lin Pictures. He will be supervising producer, with Dan Lin executive producing. It has been a very intriguing pilot pickup day at ABC with two pretty bold drama choices — unconventional takes on familiar franchises: soap, detective show — and two more conventional multicamera comedy picks.
UPDATE 12:40PM As expected, it is a busy pickup day at ABC. The network just gave the green light to period drama pilot Pan Am, from Sony Pictures TV and ER alum Jack Orman. Orman penned the script and Thomas Schlamme is on board to direct the pilot, described as a sexy soap set against the Jet-Age about pilots and flight attendants working at the iconic Pan Am airline in the 1960s. Executive producing are Orman, Schlamme and producer Nancy Hult Ganis, a former Pan Am flight attendant and the driving force behind the project. Ganis’ husband, fellow producer Sid Ganis, will co-executive produce.
ABC also just picked up a second comedy pilot for … Read More »
ABC is really manning up this pilot season. After greenlighting Chris Moynihan’s comedy pilot Man Up earlier this month, the network has just picked up another project by that name, this one from writer-producer Jack Burditt (30 Rock), which has Tim Allen circling the lead. The multicamera Jack Burditt project, which has now being renamed to The Last Day of Man, originally landed at ABC in November with a put pilot commitment after a bidding war with CBS. The project, from 20th TV and 21 Laps/Adelstein Prod., centers on a guy fighting for his manhood in a world of women. Burditt is executive producing with Marty Adelstein, Shawn Levy and Becky Clements.
ABC has given the green light to comedy pilot Suburgatory, from writer/executive producer Emily Kapnek and Warner Bros. TV. The single-camera project is described as a satirical look at life in the suburbs and centers on a quintessentially New York City girl who moves to a cookie-cutter community only to discover that life in the ‘burbs is more frightening than any horror movie that she’s ever seen. From the network: “tonally, this is a heightened view of suburbia with a cinematic quality that evokes the scope and horror of perfection.”
UPDATED: On the heels of ABC renewing its flagship comedy series Modern Family for a third season, the network is finalizing a deal to pick up a single-camera comedy pilot directed by the Modern Family pilot director Jason Winer. The 20th TV-produced project, tentatively titled Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apt. 23, was written/executive produced by American Dad executive producer Nahnatchka Khan and executive produced/supervised by former American Dad! writer-producer David Hemingson. It centers on an an earnest, honest, optimistic girl from the heartland who, due to circumstances beyond her control, is forced to move in with a sexy, unstable New York City party girl who has the morals of a pirate. Khan and Hemingson originally developed the project for Fox 2 seasons ago. Now, it is finding a second life at ABC with a pilot order and Winer as director. Bitch marks the first pilot directing gig for Winer since Modern Family, also for ABC/20th TV, which earned him an Emmy and an DGA nomination. Winer, who also served as director/co-executive producer on the first season of Family, is bring along Family producer Jeff Morton who will serve as a producer on Bitch. For Khan, the project is in second position to Connected, a single-camera comedy she has in contention at Fox. Additionally, she has comedy Dealbreaker under consideration at ABC.
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.” Read More »
ABC has made its first comedy pilot pickups this season, ordering Man Up, from 100 Questions creator Chris Moynihan and an Smothered, from Friends alums Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen.
The ABC Studios/Tagline-produced Man Up stems from writer-actor Moynihan’s two-script deal with the studio. In addition to writing and executive producing, Moynihan is set to co-star in the project, a look at what it takes to survive as a modern man, as told through the eyes of three best friends and the women in their lives. Also executive producing are Tagline’s Ron West and Kelly Kulchak. Moynihan is with Rothman Brecher and Thruline. (This is not to be confused with Jack Burditt’s comedy script Man Up, also at ABC, which has Tim Allen circling.)
The Warner Bros. TV-produced Smothered is based on Reich and Cohen’s real-life experiences and centers on a young couple who find themselves smothered by their two very different sets of parents whose only thing in common is that their children are married to each other. Reich and Cohen are with WME.