After departing McKinley High to move to New York fulltime for the latter part of this season, the musical dramedy looked destined to end its run in the Big Apple. That won’t be the case, Glee co-creator/executive producer Ryan …
With less than a month until the upfronts, we’re kicking off our annual Pilot Buzz series. As usual, the first edition only includes a limited number of projects that have been garnering early attention as many pilots are still filming. So, if a pilot is not mentioned, it probably means it is too early to weigh in or the feedback I’ve received is inconclusive at this time.
Shonda Rhimes. Viola Davis. Need we say more? ABC’s sexy suspense legal thriller How To Get Away With Murder, executive produced by Rhimes and starring Davis, is packing some heat early on. Secret & Lies starring Ryan Phillippe also is getting encouraging early response. It also has a seven-figure penalty and is directed by Charles McDougall, whose strong pilot record includes Desperate Housewives, The Good Wife and most recently, Resurrection last season. Then there is Marvel’s stealth Agent Carter project. Last year, the company went into Fort Knox mode on its Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot, which was kept under lock and key. They took that a notch further this year with Agent Carter. Because there is a prototype — the project is inspired by a one shot, which was featured on the Blu-ray release of Iron Man 3 — word has been that it would forgo a pilot and go straight to series. The script was finished more than three months ago (“the script is great,” ABC’s Paul Lee said back in January), the option on one-shot’s star Hayley Atwell came up and was extended, but the green light never came. Now there is talk that a pickup for Agent Carter may come along with a renewal for Marvel’s freshman Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with the new series possibly serving as a bridge between the fall and spring portions of S.H.I.E.L.D. Also getting various level of early traction at ABC is mystery Sea of Fire and several dark horses, alien drama The Whispers (aka The Visitors), medical drama The Warriors and mystery Clementine.
EXCLUSIVE: It’s the end of an era at ABC’s Dancing With The Stars. Conrad Green, who has been executive producer/showrunner of the veteran reality series since its launch, will depart after the end of the current 18th season. He is leaving to join Fox‘s upcoming Utopia as executive producer. Also joining the upcoming social experiment reality series as executive producer is Jon Kroll (Big Brother, The Amazing Race). Green was part of the original BBC Worldwide Prods. team of Dancing that pitched the format to ABC. His nine-year, 18-cycle stint will come to an end at the May 20 season finale. “I’m enormously proud of everything we’ve achieved on Dancing With The Stars,” he told Deadline. “This has been the job of a lifetime and I’m thankful for every performance, every dancer and every colleague I’ve worked with over the years, and to ABC and BBC Worldwide Prods. for these past eighteen seasons. What was once a small dancing show has thrived and become a cultural phenomenon. But after almost 10 years, the opportunity to take on a project with the immense potential of Utopia was simply too good to pass up. The ambition and scale of the challenge is thrilling. I’ll miss everyone I’ve worked with on Dancing With the Stars and look forward to this next exciting chapter.”
It is very difficult for showrunners to wrap production on a season without knowing if their series would get another season. Unfortunately, that is the nature of the network business, and about two dozen shows go though that every year. Here is a look at each network’s comedy and drama series in peril and their odds for survival.
With all the drama carnage at ABC this season (Lucky 7, Betrayal, Killer Women, Mind Games, The Assets), the network is pretty lean on the hourlong side, and all shows currently on the air have a good shot at coming back. That includes two freshman series, fall drama Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., despite slipping in the ratings, and midseason entry Resurrection. Of returning dramas, there is no doubt about renewals for Shonda Rhimes’ Grey’s Anatomy, especially with stars Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey signed on, and Scandal, as well as Castle and Once Upon A Time. While it was heavily on the bubble last season, country music drama Nashville appears in a stronger position this spring and looks likely to continue. And, despite its ratings erosion, Revenge remains a signature, upscale drama for ABC that the network also owns. Because of its heavy mythology with a revenge storyline that has been central to the show since the pilot, it is unlikely that ABC would abruptly end the series without giving it a final chapter to wrap things up.
Things are far murkier on the comedy side where there are three shoe-ins, anchors Modern Family and The Middle and freshman The Goldbergs. None of these hail from ABC’s sister studio, and building a steady comedy pipeline at ABC Studios has been important for the overall health of the company. There are three ABC Studios-produced comedy series on ABC at the moment, all on the bubble: freshmen Trophy Wife and Mixology and sophomore The Neighbors. The network will likely renew at least one comedy from its own studio. (Last year, it picked The Neighbors vs. 20th TV’s How To Live With Your Parents.) Of the three, Trophy Wife seems to have the biggest support and is the most promotable, with a star cast led by Malin Akerman and Bradley Whitford. But the name cast also makes Trophy Wife the most expensive, and its ratings are pretty soft. The Neighbors, which comes from prominent Disney writer Dan Fogelman, costs way less, and, while only doing so-so on Fridays, it could deliver something ABC Studios has not seen in a while: a third-year comedy. (Fogelman also has comedy pilot Galavant in the running at ABC.) Then there is Mixology, which has not done well behind Modern Family. It stands out with its unusual structure — set in a bar over the course of one night — it has quickly built a core fan base and has supporters at ABC. But relaunching a heavily serialized comedy in the fall four months after a brief midseason run would be a challenge and growing ratings for such a show with a continues storyline would be very difficult. ABC has a recent history of sticking with narrow, quirky relationship comedies like Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B—- but all were eventually cancelled. 20th TV’s Last Man Standing starring Tim Allen is quietly wrapping its third season. It has done a decent job as a Friday 8 PM anchor and is ABC’s only multi-camera series. With several high-proile multi-camera pilots, the network could use Last Man Standing as a building block. (How about Allen paired with another comedy vet, Henry Winkler of The Winklers?).
EXCLUSIVE: Fox Broadcasting Company has partnered with The Black List to find television drama writers for Fox projects. The way it will work is, The Black List will solicit scripts to be evaluated by its in-house readers, and will recommend a short list of scribes to Fox for consideration. If Fox likes them, a drama script deal or drama staff position might be the result. Writers can begin submitting material today, to www.blcklst.com/fox, and the program ends May 1 at 11:59 PM.
Just days after it was taken out on the global marketplace, the Israeli game show format Boom! has landed a sale in the U.S. Fox has given a series order to the explosive project, developed for the U.S. by Keshet DCP, the joint venture between Keshet International, the global distribution and production arm of Keshet Media Group (Homeland), and DC Media, the parent company of dick clark prods. (Golden Globes)
EXCLUSIVE: Is Fox heading back to Temptation Island? I hear that the network is in talks for a pilot order to Couples Retreat, a new reality project that would put couples to the test. Unlike Fox’s controversial Temptation Island, which was trying to break couples whose relationship was not strong enough, Couples Retreat aims at helping couples whose relationships are struggling using an unconventional method: “each agree to go on a fantasy weekend with the opposite-gender partner of a similarly matched couple.” The provocative concept, which likely will draw swinging-couple references, is sure to raise eyebrows. The project, which is now casting, comes from Red Arrow-backed Kinetic Content, run by Chris Coelen, who previously worked on ABC’s Wife Swap.
Aereo may have agreed with broadcasters late last year that the best venue for their ongoing legal “war of attrition” is the Supreme Court. But as today’s response brief (read it here) to the plaintiffs reveals, that’s all the two sides agree on in this case. “This Court should not rewrite the Copyright Act in an effort to protect petitioners from lawful and logical advancements in technology or from the economic consequences of their transmitting works for free over the public airwaves,” said the Barry Diller-backed subscription streaming service in its filing today at the SCOTUS. “The ‘one-to-one’ transmissions from Aereo’s equipment – individual transmissions from personal recordings created from data received by individual antennas – do not constitute ‘public’ performances,” the dense, 100-page brief also noted one of the broadcasters’ primary complaints about the company. With the high court scheduled to hear oral arguments on the case on late next month, Aereo now must send in an amicus curiae brief of its own by April 2.
With Britain (and the world) on Royal Wedding watch as speculation intensifies that Prince Harry may be close to proposing to long-time girlfriend Cressida Bonas, a group of U.S. women get one last chance to win the Prince’s heart before he goes off the market. Not really. I’ve learned that Fox is moving forward with its hush-hush reality series I Wanna Marry “Harry”, in which 12 single American girls were whisked away to the palatial Englefield House in Berkshire and spent weeks trying to impress a royal-looking redhead young Brit they were led to believe was Prince Harry. Instead, it was Prince Harry lookalike Matthew Hicks, an average English “bloke” given a royal makeover, trying to convincingly act the part so the women don’t find out who he really is. The project, from Ryan Seacrest Prods. and ZigZag Prods., was greenlighted in August under the title Dream Date, with details about the premise kept largely under wraps for obvious reasons. Now it is gearing up, eying a summer launch.