EXCLUSIVE: In a near seven-figure deal, Fox has acquired the spec script Vacation Friends by the sibling scribe team Tom Mullen & Tim Mullen. The plan is for Steve Pink to direct, and for Chris Pratt and …
PILOT SEASON 2014: Network Casting Chiefs On This Season’s Biggest Challenges, Casting Coups & Fresh Faces
Spring arrived yesterday, bringing the end of the annual two-month mad dash known as pilot casting season. Heading into pilot season this year, there was a lot of concern that the proliferation of original scripted programming on cable and digital platforms would put an additional strain on broadcast pilot casting, further depleting the talent pool. Going head-to-head with the casting of more than a dozen cable and digital pilots/series — including multiple-pilot slates on TNT, Amazon and FX and high-profile series on Netflix, USA and WGA America — the broadcast networks escaped mostly unscathed, successfully casting more that 80 pilots/direct-to-series, with only three comedy pilots rolled because of difficulties finding actors.
Related: Pilot Season 2014: The Overachievers
This pilot season brought an additional wrinkle, with Fox’s Kevin Reilly declaring in January that his network plans to bypass the traditional pilot cycle going forward. There were more straight-to-series and limited/event series orders this season, and several networks started casting a handful of projects early. But overall, it was mostly business as usual, with thousands of castings sessions crammed into eight weeks that resulted in the casting of more that 1,500 roles. We saw Oscar winners and nominees like The Help‘s Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer (plus Halle Berry earlier in the season) come to television, TV stars like David Schwimmer, Patricia Arquette, Mary-Louise Parker and Josh Duhamel make a return, and the casts of cancelled shows Happy Endings and Nikita be sought after.
Related: Primetime Pilot Panic!
As we close the book on this year’s casting season, let’s hear from the women (and a man) who were in the middle of it all, leading the casting charge at the broadcast networks. I asked the exhausted heads of casting (“I need a vacation,” one of them exclaimed) Tess Sanchez (Fox), Keli Lee (ABC), Grace Wu (NBC) and Peter Golden (CBS), plus Lori Openden (the CW), whose network doesn’t compete directly with the Big 4 as it targets younger talent, to answer questions about the challenges of this pilot season, progress on cast diversity, their and their competitors’ biggest casting coups, the season’s biggest discoveries, and the toughest roles and types to cast. (Find out how many child actors Fox saw for the Bruce Wayne role in Gotham.) Here are their answers:
Here’s a rundown of shows that will hit the airwaves for the first time between June 1 and the start of the 2014-15 TV season, along with those returning for new seasons or coming off hiatus. We will update when new dates are announced:
Halt & Catch Fire (AMC, series premiere)
Mistresses (ABC, Season 2 premiere)
Beauty And The Beast (The CW, Season 2B premiere)
Famous In 12 (The CW, series premiere)
Jennifer Falls (TV Land, series premiere)
Orange Is The New Black (Netflix, Season 2 premiere)
Power (Starz, series premiere)
Murder In The First (TNT, series premiere)
Major Crimes (TNT, Season 3 premiere)
EXCLUSIVE: It’s the end of the road for Fox‘s quirky family comedy Raising Hope, with the upcoming fourth-season finale serving as series finale. The blue-collar sitcom will bow out with an hourlong farewell on Friday, April 4, featuring back-to-back episodes from 9-10 PM.
Created by Greg Garcia, Raising Hope was the first comedy series in a while to stick at Fox. It proved a good utility player, doing well behind New Girl but also as a 8 PM anchor of the Tuesday comedy block last season. “Getting to know and love the Chance family on Raising Hope has been a sweet, hilarious ride,” said Fox chairman Kevin Reilly and COO Joe Earley. “Thanks to the incredibly talented cast — along with Greg, Mike and the entire crew — for making us laugh for four fantastic seasons.”
Related: 2014 Fox Pilots
Raising Hope had the odds stacked against it going into Season 4. Creator Greg Garcia left the series as part of his move from 20th TV, which produces Raising Hope, to CBS TV Studios. He was succeeded on showrunner duties by Mike Mariano. Then the show was sent to Fridays where it has languished, most recently pulling in a 0.5 18-49 rating this past Friday.
“America has always been a nation of fearless explorers who dream big and reach farther than others imagine,” President Obama said as he introduced the series premiere episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey tonight on 10 Fox Networks Group Channels, …
Fox and Nat GEO‘s reboot of Carl Sagan’s classic Cosmos series is getting some White House lift-off. President Obama will be introducing the series premiere episode this Sunday, March 9 at 9pm ET/PT. A preview of the series screened at the White House as part of their inaugural White House Film Festival on Friday, February 28. Release is below:
This is gutsy. Fox has handed early renewals for next season to comedies Brooklyn Nine-Nine, New Girl and The Mindy Project and drama The Following. Golden Globe-winning freshman Brooklyn Nine-Nine is picked up for a second season, Mindy and The Following for a third and New Girl for a fourth. They join three other Fox scripted series that already have been picked up for next season: freshman drama Sleepy Hollow; veteran Bones, renewed for a 10th season; and Glee, which has a final sixth season as part of a two-year pickup. That is a lot of programming already locked in for next season though Fox has extra holes to fill following the cancellation of The X Factor. Networks are not required to make any renewal decisions until May, and most wait to see their pilots before making decisions. Fox, of course, declared in January that it was breaking away from the pilot cycle, so the network also may be going on its own timetable with renewals. But most of all, today’s pickups are about Fox brass giving a vote of confidence to series they feel strongly about creatively.
Dave Annable (Brothers & Sisters, 666 Park Avenue) has nabbed a series regular role in Fox’s Red Band Society, from Amblin TV and ABC Studios. It is a coming-of-age drama that explores with dark humor the daily lives of a group of teenagers living in a hospital who become unlikely friends. Annable, repped by CAA and Barking Dog Entertainment, will play Dr. William McAndrew, a rock star pediatric oncologist and surgeon who tries not to get too attached to his young patients.
Related: 2014 Fox Pilots
Fox‘s hip-hop industry drama Empire continues to add boldface names. Top music producer/songwriter Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley is the latest to board the pilot starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, which hails from Lee Daniels, Danny Strong and Imagine’s Brian Grazer. Timbaland will serve as songwriter and song producer on Empire, a family drama set in the world of a hip-hop empire, which will feature a mix of new and existing music. Timbaland’s involvement resembles Nashville‘s signing of T Bone Burnett for the pilot and the first season. Empire centers on Lucious Lyon (Howard), a charismatic, savvy music superstar who is about to take his company, Empire Entertainment, public. Raised on the streets, he has never backed away from a fight and will resort to any measures, fair or foul, to defend his beloved Empire.