EXCLUSIVE: Danny Cannon has been tapped to direct and executive produce the pilot for Fox’s high-profile comic book drama Gotham, from Warner Bros. TV and The Mentalist creator Bruno Heller. The project, which landed at Fox in September after a bidding war, mines DC Comics’ popular Batman character universe and explores the origin stories of Commissioner James Gordon and the villains who made Gotham City famous. It has a series commitment and is expected to go to series as the project is a priority for the network, and the pilot has a series penalty behind it.
Related: ‘Backstrom’ Gets 13-Episode Series Order At Fox
In Gotham, Gordon is still a detective with the Gotham City Police Department and has yet to meet Batman, who will not be part of the series. Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, Commissioner Gordon has appeared in comic books as well as Batman films and series, including in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, where he was played by Gary Oldman. Read More »
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Television writers and producers aren’t supposed to treasure directors, generally viewing them instead as a necessary evil. But Greg Berlanti evidently failed to receive that memo this morning as he positively gushed during a TCA session about Danny Cannon‘s directorial contributions to his new CW series The Tomorrow People. Berlanti referred to Cannon, who directed both the pilot and second episode of the SFX-rich series, as “the unsung hero” of the effects. Berlanti stressed, “The art of pilot directing is, I think, even more challenging than feature directing in that (the director) has to create an entire world and an entire aesthetic and tell a story in a much short period of time, and with a lot less money. They also have to make a lot of creative decisions themselves.” He emphasized that all TV directors should get “a tremendous amount more credit” that they do. “As someone who has written a number of pilots, you really begin to worship the people who are experts at this art form,” Berlanti continued. “I’ve been blessed to work with people like David Nutter and Danny (Cannon), who really achieve a feature look and style.”
Related: TCA: “Good Time” To Be Director In TV, Says DGA Prez & FX Series Helmers Read More »
Danny Cannon is set to direct and executive produce the CW drama pilot The Tomorrow People, the Warner Bros./Berlanti TV-produced adaptation of the British sci-fi series. Phil Klemmer wrote the script and exec produces with Greg Berlanti, Julie Plec and Cannon. Cannon’s pilot directing credits include the CSI franchise and Nikita.
RJ Cutler, who directed the pilot for ABC’s freshman drama Nashville, will helm CBS’ drama pilot The Ordained. The project, from CBS TV Studios and writer Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, centers on the son of a Kennedy-esque family who leaves the priesthood and becomes a lawyer to prevent his politician sister from being assassinated. CAA-repped Cutler serves as an executive producer on Nashville.
Emmy winner Todd Holland has signed on to direct the NBC single-camera comedy pilot Donor Party, from writer Alex Schemmer and Universal TV. It is about a guy who discovers he’s got children from sperm donations he’d made years ago. Holland is joining with his producing partner Karey Burke who will executive produce through their Dark Toy banner. Holland executive produces with Burke freshman NBC comedy Go On whose pilot he directed last season. Read More »
TNT is saddling up for Gateway, handing out a cast-contingent pilot order to the action/adventure project from Bruce C. McKenna and Danny Cannon. The project, produced by Warner Horizon, was first announced at Turner’s upfront in May as part of TNT’s development slate. Set in the town of the same name in Colorado in the 1880s, Gateway tells the story of three brothers who step in to save their town when their sheriff father is murdered, pitting them against a corrupt cattle baron determined to make the town his own. McKenna (Band of Brothers, The Pacific) wrote the script. He is executive producing with CSI director/executive producer Cannon, who is also attached to direct the pilot. Also expected to be involved is Deran Serafian (House). The project is set in the same time period as AMC’s upcoming series Hell on Wheels, which takes place during the building of the Union Pacific Railroad in the 1860s. Additionally, Reconstruction, set in a Missouri town during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, was developed at FX and went to pilot at NBC this past development season. The genre’s TV renaissance is in stark contrast to its struggles on the feature side following Cowboys & Aliens‘ disappointing box-office performance. Disney has pulled the plug (for now) … Read More »
Here is the second-annual honor roll of the best and brightest at the broadcast upfront. First off, to all who got their pilots picked up to series — congratulations. You’re already winners. This is a list of those who took their upfront success to an extra level:
Whitney Cummings: The undisputed queen of Upfront 2011. She is behind two new comedy series that are among the highest-profile new half-hour entries next fall. She created, stars in and executive produces her eponymous comedy for NBC, which was assigned the network’s best comedy slot, following The Office. She also co-wrote on spec with Michael Patrick King the CBS comedy 2 Broke Girls, which broke records as CBS’ best-testing pilot (comedy or drama) ever. Both were the first comedy pilots to get a series order at their networks. Cummings, who also has a talk show in contention at E!, will serve as an executive producer on 2 Broke Girls but will be full-time on Whitney, which was in first position. I hope that doesn’t impact 2 Broke Girls, which King is expected to run/co-run, because the pilot indeed looks great. Honorable mention in the category of creators with multiple projects for Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen. One of their two ABC pilots, Work It, was picked up to series, while the other, Smothered, is very much in contention for midseason.
What a comeback for J.J. Abrams! After his high-profile NBC drama Undercovers went bust last fall, some questioned whether the networks will continue to bet on him. But bet they did this upfront, with both pilots he produced, CBS’ Person of Interest and Fox’s Alcatraz, going to series. Person of Interest instantly became one of the most anticipated new fall series when CBS made it its new Thursday 9 PM anchor. The network also said it was its best-testing drama pilot ever. And over at Fox, Alcatraz prevailed over several high-profile pilots to land one of only two drama series spots. Then, as icing on the cake, Abrams’ modestly rated but well-liked Fox sci-fi series Fringe got a renewal for next season, bringing the producer’s series for next season to three. Read More »
In a series of stories, I’ll take an analytical look at the current broadcast pilot season and some of its trends and heroes.
In what was probably the last big pilot director signing this season, Jaume Collet-Sera yesterday closed a deal to direct ABC’s The River hours before the premiere of his new movie, the Liam Neeson starrer Unknown. It was a fitting end to a pilot director hiring season that was dominated by feature helmers.
Among those signed for pilots are Jonathan Demme (CBS’ untitled Susannah Grant), Shawn Levy (Fox’s Comedy Album), Phillip Noyce (ABC’s Revenge), Antoine Fuqua (Fox’s Exit Strategy), James Mangold (CBS’ Rookies) Michael Apted (ABC’s Hallelujah), Eclipse director David Slade (NBC’s REM), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev (CBS’ Redlich/Bellucci), Mark Romanek (Fox’s Locke & Key) and Easy A helmer Will Gluck (Fox’s Iceland). Two filmmakers, Stephen Gaghan and Michael Patrick King, are directing their own scripts, NBC’s S.I.L.A. and A Mann’s World, respectively, while Peter Berg is directing NBC’s Prime Suspect, which he also produces. Also approached for pilots were McG, Tony Scott and Brett Ratner, but no deals were made, mostly because of feature scheduling conflicts.
The trend of going after feature directors for pilots started in the early 2000s with the success of CBS’ CSI, which was attributed in part to the show’s distinct look and visual effects brought in by feature director Danny Cannon, who made his TV debut with the … Read More »
Former Dexter director-producer Michael Cuesta, who most recently helmed the pilot for CBS’ cop family drama Blue Bloods, has signed on to direct Showtime’s drama pilot Homeland, a psychological thriller from former 24 showrunner Howard Gordon based on an Israeli format.
In other notable recent pilot director signings, former Six Feet Under director-executive producer Alan Poul has been tapped to direct and executive produce TNT’s drama pilot Perception starring Eric McCormack as a brilliant neuroscientist helping the FBI, Gregory Hoblit (Untraceable) is set to direct another TNT pilot, the untitled Allan Loeb cop drama project starring Steven Weber and D.L Hughley, which is based on Marshall Karp’s novel The Rabbit Factory. On the broadcast side, Danny Cannon has come on board to direct Fox’s drama pilot Alcatraz. The gig marks Cannon’s first collaboration with J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot, which is co-producing the pilot with Warner Bros. TV. Cannon, who made his TV directing debut on the pilot for the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced CSI, has worked primarily with the WBTV-based Bruckheimer TV. His most notable effort on a non-Bruckheimer-produced project came last spring when he directed and executive produced the CW/WBTV pilot Nikita.
At ABC Family, Wendey Stanzler is directing drama pilot Nine Lives starring Skyler Samuels and Amy Pietz, Keith Truesdell is shooting the untitled Brenda Hampton pilot, and … Read More »
After a popular Nikita movie and series, why retell the story yet again in a new series? It’s a legitimate question and one the writer of the upcoming CW series Nikita Craig Silverstein asked himself when Warner Bros. TV approached him with the idea to do something with the title. “I took it upon myself to find a way — could it be done fresh? Could we have a take where you didn’t know how this story was going to end? And that’s when I came upon the idea of following Nikita (Maggie Q) after she had left the agency which is a chapter that’s never been told, and at the same time doing justice to the origin story of Nikita, that dark fairy tale of taking a girl and changing her life, changing her identity, and the kind of Pygmalion aspect of transforming her into a killer, a beautiful killer and giving her etiquette lessons and all that stuff. We’re doing that with the character of Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca). You don’t know which way this girl is going to go, you don’t know how the story is going to end. So it’s not a rehash.”
McG hit on the empowered female characters theme in Nikita. “From my experience with Charlie’s Angels on down, it’s just I like the idea of empowered female characters that don’t apologize for being beautiful, but are very, very intelligent and multi-dimensional, and I think Maggie nails that voicing.”
Director Danny Cannon shed some light on the action-packed pilot’s budget. “I’m very proud that this pilot cost a third of what other pilots cost this year. And that’s because I did … Read More »