EXCLUSIVE: In his first regular series gig, Tropic Thunder co-star Brandon T. Jackson has been tapped as the male lead opposite Minnie Driver in CBS’ buddy P.I. pilot Hail Mary. Penned by Jeff Wadlow, the project centers on Mary Beth Baker (Driver), a suburban single mom in Atlanta who, after her teen son gets killed, teams up with her son’s best friend KZ (Jackson), a fast-talking con artist from the streets, to solve her son’s murder and other crimes. Jackson, repped by CAA and ML Management, most recently appeared in Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son and guest starred on Fox’s Raising Hope.
Former Friends executive producer Adam Chase has joined CBS’ comedy pilot How To Be A Gentleman, written by and starring It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s David Hornsby. Chase will serve as executive producer/co-showrunner on the pilot alongside Hornsby. If the pilot goes to series, for Chase it would be in second position to ABC’s freshman comedy Better with You, on which Chase serves as a co-executive producer.
Loosely based on John Bridges’ book How To Be a Gentleman: A Contemporary Guide to Common Courtesy, the CBS TV Studios-produced show revolves around a magazine that has changed ownership and centers on Alan (Hornsby) who writes a column on how to be a gentleman – in all aspects of life. Also executive producing the pilot with Hornsby and Chase are Ted Schachter and MRC.
On Better with You, Chase, repped by WME and Mosaic, reunited with fellow Friends exec producers Shana Goldberg-Meehan and Greg Malins. Goldberg-Meehan created the comedy and is exec producing/co-showrunning it with Malins.
Feature and Broadway actor Patrick Wilson is making his first foray into series TV as the star of CBS’ untitled Susannah Grant drama pilot. Jonathan Demme is directing he supernatural medical drama, from CBS TV Studios and studio-based Timberman/Beverly Prods., which centers on an ultra-competitive surgeon (Wilson) whose life is changed forever when his ex-wife dies and begins teaching him what life is all about from the here-after. Wilson’s only previous TV gig was a co-starring role on the HBO miniseries Angels In America, which earned him an Emmy nomination. Wilson was approached by 3 drama pilots this season. As part of his deal for the Susannah Grant pilot, its production will be moved to New York where Wilson lives. CAA-repped Wilson most recently starred in the Sundance entry The Ledge.
Kat Dennings has signed on as one of the two leads in CBS’ multicamera comedy pilot Two Broke Girls, co-written and executive produced by former Sex and the City showrunner Michael Patrick King and comedian Whitney Cummings. Dennings is the first actor cast in the project, which centers on two girls from very different backgrounds – Max (Dennings), poor from birth, and Caroline, born wealthy but down on her luck – who wind up as waitresses in the same Brooklyn diner, and strike up an unlikely friendship that could lead to a successful business venture… if they can come up with $250,000 in start-up expenses. After starting off in TV with a breakout lead role opposite Bob Saget on the WB sitcom Raising Dad and an arc on NBC’s ER, Dennings, repped by CAA and Management 360, segued into features, including The House Bunny and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. She will next be seen in Thor.
EXCLUSIVE: Home Game has won the Rob Riggle sweepstakes. Riggle is set to star in the CBS multicamera comedy, from Mark Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson’s Leverage. The project, loosely based on the experiences of former NFL star Mark Schlereth, centers on Mark (Riggle), a retired NFL player who returns home to his wife Lisa (Constance Zimmer) and daughters.
Finding a starring vehicle for the former Daily Show correspondent has been a big priority for CBS, which in the fall inked a third consecutive talent deal with him. Riggle was initially attached to a comedy from Saturday Night veteran Robert Smigel. When that project didn’t go to pilot, the network sent him 3 other scripts, including Home Game. With his background as a Marine where he was often deployed and his current profession as an actor where he goes away for filming and touring, Riggle immediately connected with the character in Home Game who is back with his family after years of playing with the pros. Also key for Riggle’s decision to go with Home Game was his relationship with Wahlberg. The two had worked together in the movie The Other Guys and Wahlberg reached out to Riggle who had been the producers’ first and only choice for the role.
Home Game, from CBS TV Studios, was written by Warren Bell and Chris Nowak. Bell, Wahlberg and Levinson executive produce along with Riggle’s managers Peter Principato and Paul Young, with …
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.
CBS has given the green light to two family comedy pilots, an untitled project starring Rob Schneider and Home Grown, from That ’70s Show alums Jeff and Jackie Filgo. This marks the second pilot for the Filgos, who have also come on board Marisa Coughlan’s multicamera comedy pilot for ABC Lost and Found as executive producers/showrunners. Both pilots are from Warner Bros. TV.
The untitled Rob Schneider project, from CBS TV Studios and the Tannenbaum Co., was written by Schneider and fellow Saturday Night Live alum Lew Morton. It is based on Schneider’s life and centers on a solitary guy who marries into a huge Mexican-American family. The project originally landed at CBS in October with a script commitment. Morton, Eric and Kim Tannenbaum (Two and a Half Men) are executive producing, with Schneider and his brother John Schneider producing through their From Out of Nowhere Prods. This marks Schneider’s first TV series gig in 13 years. He last did a series in the 1996-97 season, NBC’s comedy Men Behaving Badly. Schneider has since been focused on films, most recently co-starring in Grown Ups.
Jeff and Jackie Filgo’s Home Grown is a multicamera comedy about a blue collar man who wrestles with how to parent his unmarried grown daughter and her 12-year-old son while sharing a house with them, his wife and his recently widowed mother. The Filgos wrote the script and …
Richard Shepard, who won an Emmy for directing the pilot of ABC’s Ugly Betty, has come on board to direct another hourlong pilot with a female lead, CBS’ Ringer starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. Ringer, written on spec by Eric Charmelo & Nicole Snyder, centers on a troubled young woman (Gellar) who, while on the run from the mob, hides out by inhabiting the life of her wealthy twin sister. Shepard’s gig on Ringer stems from his overall deal at CBS TV Studios, which produces the pilot. This is WME-repped Shepard’s second pilot this season; he also directed CW’s Danni Lowinski. Shepard previously helmed the pilots for CBS’ Criminal Minds and its upcoming spinoff Criminal Behavior.
Marc Buckland, who won an Emmy for directing the pilot for NBC’s My Name Is Earl, is back at NBC as director of the drama pilot Grimm. Created by David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf, it is described as a dark but fantastical cop drama about a world in which characters inspired by Grimm’s Fairy Tales exist. ICM-repped Buckland, who served as an exec producer on Earl, has also worked on drama series, including Murder One and Medical Investigation.
CBS is back in business with Tucker Cawley, former executive producer of the network’s hit Everybody Loves Raymond. CBS has greenlighted to pilot Cawley’s multicamera comedy The Assistants, a young ensemble about four assistants who work for a celebrity couple. CBS TV Studios and studio-based Tannenbaum Co. are producing, with Cawley, Eric and Kim Tannenbaum exec producing. Cawley win 3 Emmys for Raymond, two best comedy series statuettes, which he shared with the rest of the show’s producing team, and one for writing one of Raymond‘s most memorable episodes, Baggage. Post-Raymond, Cawley created the short-lived ABC sitcom Hank and recently joined his Raymond buddies Ray Romano and Mike Royce on their TNT dramedy Men of a Certain Age.
EXCLUSIVE: CBS’ untitled Ed Redlich/John Bellucci drama pilot, which was rolled over from last season, has been given a formal green light, with Niels Arden Oplev, director of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, on board to direct.
The project, co-produced by Sony Pictures TV and CBS TV Studios, centers on a female NYPD detective who possesses the special ability to remember everything and, although a gift in her job, it’s also a curse in her personal life. Redlich and Bellucci wrote the script, which is inspired by J. Robert Lennon’s short story The Rememberer, and are exec producing with CBS TV Studios-based Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly who originally developed the project while at Sony. Last year, the pilot was given a cast-contingent order but was pushed following difficulties casting the lead. I hear this time there are no contingencies.
The firm green light for the Redlich/Bellucci pilot comes on the heels of a slew of news stories highlighting the phenomenon of “superior autobiographical memory.” CBS’ 60 Minutes in December did a segment on it, a rare ability to remember each day of your life as if it happened yesterday, which is posessed by only a handful of people in the world, including actress Marilu Henner.
This marks the U.S. debut of Danish film and TV director Oplev, whose Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie has grossed more than $100 million worldwide and has received 3 BAFTA …
EXCLUSIVE: Spec scripts continue to be red-hot this January. CBS just snatched one from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia writer/co-executive producer/recurring guest star David Hornsby, which has been greenlighted to pilot. Hornsby wrote the project, How To Be a Gentleman, and is attached to star. Loosely based on John Bridges’ book How To Be a Gentleman: A Contemporary Guide to Common Courtesy, the show is described as a buddy comedy about an uptight guy learning to live his life with the help of his old high school classmate. Hornsby will play one of the two leads in the project, whose format (multi- vs. single-camera) is yet to be determined.
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.
CBS capped a busy pickup day at the broadcast networks with an order to a multicamera comedy from writer Peter Knight and Happy Madison. The project, produced by Sony Pictures TV and CBS TV Studios, is a workplace ensemble featuring a group of assistants and junior executives as they juggle love, friendship, and the corporate ladder. Knight, who previously created Krod Mandooon and the Flaming Sword of Fire and co-created Big Wolf on Campus, is executive producing with Happy Madison’s Doug Robinson. The ensemble comedy was originally set up at CBS last season. In October, Knight landed another multicamera comedy project, a family sitcom about a suburban dad, at CBS with a put pilot commitment. That project also hailed from Happy Madison and Sony TV.
This marks Sony TV’s third comedy pilot pickup today. Earlier in the day, NBC greenlighted two half-hour pilots from the studio: Peter Tolan’s Brave New World and the Jack Black-produced My Life As an Experiment. They join the Tolan/Sony TV comedy The Council of Dads, which was picked up by Fox yesterday.
CBS has added two drama pilots to its slate: The Doctor, a medical/family drama from Privileged creator Rina Mimoun, and Hail Mary, a buddy PI show from writer Jeff Wadlow. The Doctor, which originally landed at CBS in August with a put pilot commitment, centers on a mother who reconnects with her adult children when she joins the family medical practice. Mimoun, who is under an overall deal at WBTV, is the writer-executive producer. I hear this is one of 3 projects top pilot director David Nutter, aka “the pilot whisperer,” is considering for his pilot directing gig this year. CBS has been aggressive in pursuing medical shows this development season as launching a successful medical franchise is a priority for the network. The Doctor is the second medical drama project picked up to pilot so far, following the order to Susannah Grant’s supernatural medical show.
Hail Mary, which is co-produced by Silver Pictures, is a buddy P.I. show centered around a suburban single mom in Atlanta who teams up with a street-wise hustler to solve crimes. This marks the second consecutive drama pilot at CBS for Wadlow who last year created The Odds, also with Silver Pictures and WBTV producing. Wadlow wrote Hail Mary and is executive producing it with Joel Silver. Beau Bauman serves as a producer. In addition to Hail Mary, Wadlow has another …
CBS has made another drama pilot pickup, giving the green light to Rookies, an ensemble cop show from The Color of Money writer Richard Price. The project, about six NYPD rookies who balance their personal lives with learning the beat on the streets of Manhattan, is executive produced by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal through their Tribeca production banner as well as Price. CBS TV Studios, where Tribeca has a TV deal, is producing. This would mark a second NY-based cop drama series for CBS, which also has freshman Blue Bloods, in addition to forensic procedural CSI: NY. Feature writer Price ventured into series TV with a writing gig on the HBO drama The Wire. The order for Rookies follows the recent pickup of 2 other drama pilots by CBS, Ringer, toplined by Sarah Michelle Gellar, and an untitled supernatural medical drama from writer Susannah Grant.
Sarah Michelle Gellar is returning to broadcast series TV with a pilot at CBS. In its first drama pilot pickup this season, CBS has greenlighted Ringer, which is toplined by the former Buffy the Vampire Slayer star. The project hails from ABC Studios, CBS TV Studios and Brillstein Entertainment Partners. UPDATE: The pickup of Ringer was followed by another drama pilot order by CBS to an untitled supernatural medical drama from writer Susannah Grant.
Ringer, written on spec by Supernatural writer-producers Eric Charmelo & Nicole Snyder, centers on a troubled young woman (Gellar) who, while on the run from the mob, hides out by inhabiting the life of her wealthy twin sister, until she learns that her twin’s life has a bounty on it as well. Brillstein’s Peter Traugott is executive producing, with Gellar, Charmelo and Snyder co-executive producing. Geller, repped by ICM and Brillstein’s Joanne Colonna, has been heavily pursued by the broadcast networks since the end of Buffy in 2003. Her only TV gig since then had been the HBO pilot The Wonderful Maladys. Charmelo and Snyder, who are story editors on Supernatural, are with UTA and the Shuman Co.
The untitled Susannah Grant project, from CBS TV Studios and studio-based Timberman/Beverly Prods., centers on an ultra-competitive surgeon whose life is changed forever when his ex-wife dies and begins teaching him what life is all about from the here-after. Grant …
CBS has greenlighted The Same Name, an hourlong pilot from one of the masters of comedic celebreality, Cris Abrego. The project, which Abrego executive produces with Eugene Young, is a fish-out-of water comedic series involving regular people and celebrities with whom they happen to share the same name. Each self-contained episode of the show, produced by Endemol-owned 51 Minds, will feature a celebrity as he/she trades life and careers with his/hers name doppelganger
EXCLUSIVE: On the heels of his first pilot order last season, CBS’ The Odds, Jeff Wadlow has landed two projects this season, Hail Mary at CBS and Rush at the CW. Both are from Warner Bros. TV and Silver Pictures, which also produced The Odds. Hail Mary is about a female P.I. in the South who partners with her murdered son’s best friend. Rush is about undercover cops working the New York nightclub scene. Wadlow is writing and executive producing both projects with an eye to direct the potential pilots. Beau Bauman is also producing.
Veteran writer-producer Bill Kunstler has sold a comedy project to CBS, which will be produced by CBS TV Studios. Additionally, he has inked a blind script deal at Warner Bros Television with Topher Grace attached to executive produce through his production company Sargent Hall Prods. The CBS project is based on