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Primetime Pilot Panic: ABC & CBS Updates

Nellie Andreeva

With Fox done with its series orders and NBC pretty much done too, attention is focusing on ABC and CBS. ABC is expected to make its series pickups tomorrow. Here is the latest buzz on the two networks:

ABC

Assured to get series orders are early frontrunners GOOD CHRISTIAN BITCHES and CHARLIE’S ANGELS, along with the modern fairy tale ONCE UPON A TIME. Shonda Rhimes’ PR drama SCANDAL looks solid, with one or both of PAN AM and procedural IDENTITY also expected to get a green light. Thriller THE RIVER is rumored for an order, though it’s unclear if it will be a regular or limited-series one. Other possibilities on the drama side include the Hamptons-set REVENGE, which has been gathering momentum, and Marc Cherry’s HALLELUJAH, possibly for midseason with some retooling, while 1840s detective show POE has been fading.

On the comedy side, the TIM ALLEN pilot, APT. 23 and SUBURGATORY are considered a go, with SMOTHERED, WORK IT and BAD MOM as possibilities.

CBS

With CBS’ most guarded secret — who will replace Charlie Sheen — out, a lot of the intrigue surrounding CBS’ presentation next week is gone. Luckily, we still have series pickups and schedule to try to figure out. On the drama side, the rise of the J.J. Abrams/Jonah Nolan crime drama PERSON OF INTEREST remains in what is considered a frontrunner status. Ensemble cop drama ROOKIES and procedural THE REMEMBERER also appear strong. PI … Read More »

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TV’s Sexual Revolution: Female-Driven Series Dominating Early Orders

Nellie Andreeva

How many new comedy series with a female lead were picked up last May? Zero. How many have been picked up so far this season? Every single one. All four new comedy series ordered so far by Fox and NBC this season have female leads. That is how many the four broadcast networks combined have on the air this season: NBC’s 30 Rock starring Tina Fey and Parks and Recreation starring Amy Poehler, and ABC’s The Middle starring Patricia Heaton and Cougar Town starring Courteney Cox. Half of those were created by women. All four of the newly picked series come from female creators. While not at 100%, female-centered series are also dominant on the drama side. One of the two new Fox dramas, Alcatraz, has a female lead, Sarah Jones, and was co-written by a female writer, Liz Sarnoff. Of the two NBC drama pickups, one is the female-centered Prime Suspect starring Maria Bello and written by Alexandra Cunningham and the other the female-skewing Smash, which has two leads, one played by Debra Messing. And the two locks at ABC are all about ladies (though penned by male writers), Charlie’s Angels and Good Christian Bitches.

The four newly picked up half-hour series will probably be joined by 3-4 more for a complete domination of the freshman comedy class of 2011 the way ensemble relationship comedies were all the craze last year. What’s more, it looks like as many as three new comedy series are two-female lead shows. Read More »

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Primetime Pilot Panic: Screenings Updates

Nellie Andreeva

The marathon pilot screenings at the broadcast networks are in full force. While they are rarely the deciding factor in the networks’ final series pickup decisions, they help solidify early standouts’ frontrunner positions and sometimes breathe life into pilots that might have been written off too soon. Here are some updates I heard today. (If some pilots, like ALCATRAZ and POE, are not mentioned in this update, they are in the one from yesterday, so check out that one too.)

The only element of uncertainly about GOOD CHRISTIAN BITCHES‘ future as a new ABC series next season seems to be what it will be called as it will definitely won’t be GCB. After a great screening today, the dramedy executive produced by Darren Star appears a sure thing, possibly as a companion to Desperate Housewives given that it’s been referred to as “Desperate Housewives in Dallas.” Probably the biggest surprise today was the mixed reaction to Shonda Rhimes’ drama SCANDAL, once considered a lock. But with Rhimes behind it, the project is still in the running. Also mixed was the reaction to family/dance drama GRACE, which once again got praise for its elaborate dance sequences and not so much for the narrative. Still a possibility to run behind Dancing With the Stars. Early comedy favorites, SUBURGATORY and SMOTHERED, continue to fly high after good screenings today and yesterday, respectively. Reaction to the Jenna Elfman-starring comedy BAD MOM was more mixed. … Read More »

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Several More Actors Join Broadcast Pilots

By | Thursday March 24, 2011 @ 5:53pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Former Knight Rider star Justin Bruening has joined another reboot for NBC, the network’s pilot Wonder Woman. The David E. Kelley-penned project stars Adrienne Palicki as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince, a successful corporate executive working to balance the elements of her complicated life. Innovative-repped Bruening will play Steve Trevor, a leading man Diana can’t look past, an army vet who now works in the Justice department.

Desperate Housewives alum Mark Deklin has been added to ABC’s dramedy pilot Good Christian Bitches. It stars Leslie Bibb as Amanda, a mother of two and onetime “mean girl” in high school who returns home to Dallas humbled following a scandalous divorce, hoping to get a second chance at winning over her old classmates. Deklin will play a rugged, metrosexual cowboy married to one of the classmates, Cricket (Miriam Shor). Deklin, repped by APA and MBM, recently co-starred on Lone Star and is recurring on Hawaii Five-0 and Hot in Cleveland.

Dexter alum David Ramsey has been cast in the CW pilot Cooper & Stone, about Jenna Cooper (Alex Breckenridge) and Stone (Vanessa Ferlito), two smart female detectives on Chicago’s North Side who are best friends, equally adept at discussing fashion, music and pop culture as they are at solving homicides. Ramsey, repped by APA and Principato-Young, will play Mazzara, a veteran cop who has no patience for rookies but is tight with Stone. He most recently co-starred on NBC’s Outlaw. Read More »

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Madeleine Stowe Among Latest Pilot Castings

Nellie Andreeva

Madeleine Stowe and Henry Czerny are set to co-star in ABC’s drama pilot Revenge centers on Emily Thorn/Amanda Clarke (Emily VanCamp), a mysterious woman who comes to the Hamptons to exact revenge on the Graysons who destroyed her family. Stowe will play Victoria Grayson, the matriarch of the family and a social power broker. Having long ago masterminded the merciless destruction of Amanda’s dad Kevin Clarke and the ostracism of his daughter to a life in foster homes, Victoria has no idea that Emily is actually Amanda and welcomes her as a friend and neighbor. Czerny will play Victoria’s husband Conrad. Stowe, repped by Gersh and Brillstein, took a break from acting during the past couple of years to work on her feature Western script Unbound Captive, which she is also set to direct. Czerny, repped by the Glick Agency and Perry Zimel, was seen in The A-Team and on the first season of The Tudors.

Heroes alum Robert Knepper is returning to NBC with a supporting role in the network’s drama pilot  Reconstruction. Written by Josh Brand and directed by Peter Horton, the project is set in a Missouri town during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era and centers on Jason (Martin Henderson), a soldier who crosses the country and settles into a complicated town where he is welcomed as … Read More »

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Kristin Chenoweth To Co-Star In ABC’s ‘Good Christian Bitches’

By | Monday March 14, 2011 @ 8:01pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Oklahoma-born Kristin Chenoweth has Southern belle written all over her. Now the Broadway star will be able to show off her heritage with a co-starring role in ABC’s dramedy pilot temporarily titled Good Christian Bitches. After lengthy on-again, off-again negotiations, Chenoweth has closed a deal to join the project, written by Robert Harling and produced by Darren Star. It stars Leslie Bibb as Amanda, a mother of two and onetime “mean girl” in high school who returns home to Dallas humbled following a scandalous divorce, hoping to get a second chance at winning over her old classmates. Chenoweth will play Darlene, the beautiful and manipulative  head of this group of women, the G.C.B.’s. A classic Dallas housewife and villain motivated by her skewed sense of goodness, Darlene goes to church regularly, knows her Scripture and has no compunctions about breaking a few Commandments here and there. She was once one of the girls Amanda was mean to, but she’s now too much of a good Christian to do anything more than forgive Amanda and welcome her back. This marks Chenoweth’s return to ABC, where she co-starred on another dramedy, Pushing Daisies, which earned her an Emmy. Chenoweth will next reprise her character April on Fox’s Glee.

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Thomas Dekker To Star In ‘Secret Circle,’ Marisol Nichols Joins ‘Christian Bitches’

By | Thursday March 10, 2011 @ 3:15pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Former Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles star Thomas Dekker has been cast as the male lead in Kevin Williamson’s drama pilot for the CW The Secret Circle. Written by Andrew Miller and Williamson and based on the book series from L.J. Smith, Secret Circle tells the story of a young woman (Britt Robertson) who moves to a new town and discovers that not only is she a witch and part of a secret coven, but she’s also the key that will unlock a centuries-old battle of good versus evil. Dekker, repped by WME, the Schiff Co. and attorney Harris Hartman, will play a member of the witches’ circle. He will next be seen opposite Diane Lane, Tim Robbins and James Gandolfini in the HBO film Cinema Verite, which chronicles the controversial 1970s PBS documentary series An American Family.

Marisol Nichols has landed a co-starring role in ABC’s dramedy pilot Good Christian Bitches, which stars Leslie Bibb as Amanda, a mother of two and onetime “mean girl” in high school who returns home to Dallas humbled following a scandalous divorce, hoping to get a second chance at winning over her old classmates. Nichols, repped by Paradigm and Impression, will play Amanda’s former classmate Heather, a successful real estate agent who has no gripe with Amanda and is the only one truly happy to have her back.

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PTC Attacks ‘Good Christian Bitches’ Pilot

By | Wednesday March 9, 2011 @ 2:54pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

The Parents Television Council now is starting to criticize TV projects even before they have gotten on the air. The TV watch group, which recently waged a campaign against MTV’s racy new series Skins, today issued a blistering statement against ABC’s dramedy pilot Good Christian Bitches. “ABC’s decision is not only an affront to women, it blatantly attacks the world’s largest faith,” PTC president Tim Winter said. “The ‘b-word’ is toxic and is used to degrade, abuse, harass, bully and humiliate women. And the ‘Christian’ element only adds insult to injury. Would ABC even consider another faith to denigrate?  Would they even consider a program title or a plot line based on ‘Bitches’ who were Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or Buddhist? I suspect not, and I certainly hope not.  So why the double standard?”

Good Christian Bitches is, of course, a working title for the pilot, which is based on Kim Gatlin’s book of the same name and will be changed if the project goes to series, as will be the moniker of another ABC pilot briefly mentioned in PTC’s statement, comedy Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apt. 23. Even as working titles, Winter finds those offensive. “Regardless of whether the title ultimately makes it to broadcast, ABC has publicly proclaimed its values and it has tarnished the Disney brand,” he said.

Described as a sexy soap, Good Christian Bitches stars Leslie Bibb as a mother of two and onetime “mean … Read More »

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PILOT SEASON: Source Material – Books & Public Domain Properties Are In, Twitter Out

Nellie Andreeva

Part of a series that takes an analytical look at the current broadcast pilot season and some of its trends and heroes.

Once upon a time, there was a pilot season ruled by classic fairy tales and characters, real-life stories and books, with a dash of iconic brands and foreign formats.

Projects based on source material are very popular this pilot season, with public domain properties emerging as the hot novelty in the arena with two pilots, ABC’s Once Upon a Time and NBC’s Grimm, featuring popular fairytale characters like Brothers Grimm’s Snow White and Rumpelstiltskin as well as evergreens the Evil Queen and Prince Charming. Also based on a public domain property is ABC’s drama pilot Poe, about Edgar Allan Poe investigating mysteries in 1840s Boston, while another ABC drama pilot, Revenge, is a contemporary re-imagining of Alexandre Dumas, pere’s The Count of Monte Cristo.

Two iconic U.S. brands, Playboy and Pan Am, also inspired pilots this season, NBC’s Playboy and ABC’s Pan Am, both period dramas set in the 1960s.

Overall, books were the most ubiquitous source material among this year’s crop of broadcast pilots. The trend started during pitch season, when projects based on books were a hot property, and carried over to pilot season, with a significant portion of … Read More »

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Bruce Greenwood Among Latest ABC Pilot Castings

By | Friday March 4, 2011 @ 9:00pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

After fielding multiple pilot offers, Bruce Greenwood has signed on to co-star in the ABC drama pilot The River directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. The horror thriller, from DreamWorks TV, ABC Studios and Paranormal Activity mastermind Oren Peli, centers on Lincoln Cole (Joe Anderson) who, after his famous TV explorer father (Greenwood) goes missing way up the Amazon, reluctantly abandons his medical studies and follows in his father’s footsteps – accompanied by a small camera crew, and with something deadly in the water, waiting for him.

Swingtown alumna Miriam Shor has joined the cast of ABC’s dramedy pilot Good Christian Bitches. The sexy soap centers on Amanda (Leslie Bibb), onetime “mean girl” in high school who returns home humbled following a scandalous divorce, hoping to get a second chance at winning over her old classmates. Shor, repped by Gersh and Impression, will play one of the girls hurt by Amanda in high school who is now determined to ruin her life.

Darby Stanchfield (Mad Men), Jeff Perry and Liza WeilRead More »

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Leslie Bibb Set As The Lead In ABC’s ‘Bitches’, Jennifer Ehle To Star In CBS Pilot

Nellie Andreeva

Leslie Bibb has been tapped for the lead in ABC’s dramedy pilot Good Christian Bitches, from ABC Studios, Kapital Entertainment, writer-exec producer Robert Harling and exec producer Darren Star. Based on Kim Gatlin’s book, it centers on Amanda (Bibb), a recently divorced mother of two who moves back to the affluent  neighborhood where she grew up to find herself in the whirling midst of gossip, Botox and fraud. Crossing Jordan alumna Bibb, repped by ICM and manager John Carrabino, co-starred in the two Iron Man movies. She will next be seen in the feature comedy Zookeeper. Bibb joins previously cast Jennifer Aspen and Annie Potts.

The King’s Speech co-star Jennifer Ehle is set as the female lead opposite Patrick Wilson in CBS’ untitled Susannah Grant drama pilot. Jonathan Demme is directing he supernatural medical drama, from CBS TV Studios and Timberman/Beverly, which centers on an ultra-competitive surgeon (Wilson) whose life is changed forever when his ex-wife (Ehle), a doctor running a free clinic, dies and begins teaching him what life is all about from the here-after. Two-time Tony winner Ehle, repped by ICM and Independent Talent Group, recently shared a best ensemble SAG Award with the rest of the King’s Speech cast. She just finished shooting Contagion and The Ides of Read More »

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Christina Ricci, Jaime King And Annie Potts Get Pilot Starring Roles

Nellie Andreeva

In her first major TV gig, Christina Ricci has closed a deal to star in ABC’s drama pilot Pan Am. The project, from Sony Pictures TV, writer Jack Orman and director Thomas Schlamme, is a sexy soap set against the Jet-Age about pilots and flight attendants working at the iconic Pan Am airline in the 1960s. Ricci, repped by ICM and Management 360, will play the lead, Maggie, a fiery stewardess who is leading a double life – on duty she is a beautiful, perfectly groomed and poised stewardess, and off duty she is earthy, bohemian living among the beatniks and intellectuals of Greenwich Village. Exec producing are Orman, Schlamme and producer Nancy Hult Ganis, a former Pan Am flight attendant.

Jaime King is set to co-star opposite Rachel Bilson in CW’s drama pilot Hart of Dixie. The project, from  writer Leila Gerstein, WBTV and Fake Empire, is a comedic drama centered on a young New York City doctor (Bilson) who inherits a medical practice in a small Southern town inhabited by an eclectic and eccentric group of characters. King, repped by Gersh and Raw Talent, will play a beautiful, overly effusive young woman, one of the elite “Blue Belles”, a group of southern debutante-types who keep the town history alive by performing in period dress.

Annie Potts has been tapped for … Read More »

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PILOTS: Frances Fisher Joins ‘Partners,’ Jennifer Aspen Cast In ‘Bitches’

Nellie Andreeva

Frances Fisher has joined ABC drama pilot Partners. The project, from Ed Bernero,  is a cop drama centered on two female police detectives, Mattie (Scottie Thompson) and Jess (Annie Wersching), who are fiercely loyal to one another since they’re also secretly half-sisters. Fisher, repped by Michael Greene & Assoc. and Sanders Armstrong Caserta, will play Mattie and Jess’s mother, who is currently serving a long prison sentence for killing her abusive husband.

Jennifer Aspen has become the first actress cast in ABC’s dramedy pilot Good Christian Bitches, from producer Darren Star. Based on Kim Gatlin’s book, it centers on a recently divorced mother of two who moves back to the affluent Dallas neighborhood where she grew up to find herself in the whirling midst of gossip, Botox and fraud. Aspen, who co-starred on the ABC comedy Rodney and did an arc on Glee, will play one of the GCBs, beautiful but full-figured, a compulsive eater who is super-sensitive about her weight.

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Craig Zisk, Alan Poul Set To Direct Pilots

Nellie Andreeva

Craig Zisk has served as director-executive producer on two female-centered comedy series, Showtime’s United States of Tara and Weeds. Now he is set to direct 2 comedy pilots, NBC’s Bent and the untitled Kari Lizer project, both of which are built around a central female character. Additionally, former Six Feet Under director-executive producer Alan Poul has signed on to direct ABC’s dramedy pilot presentation Good Christian Bitches.

Bent, which just tapped Amanda Peet for the lead, was written by Tad Quill. It is a single-camera romantic comedy about a recently divorced “type A” single mother (Peet) who tries hard not to fall for the sexy “surfer-dude” contractor she hires to re-do her kitchen. The Kari Lizer project, which has a cast-contingent order, is a multi-camera workplace comedy about a relationship-challenged woman who, with the help of her co-workers, guides people through unexpected career transitions and downsizings. Zisk, repped by UTA and Brillstein, is currently the only helmer besides sitcom veteran Andy Ackerman to book 2 pilots this season.

Good Christian Bitches was written by Robert Harling based on the book by Kim Gatlin. it centers on a recently divorced mother of two who, to get a fresh start, moves back to the affluent Dallas neighborhood where she grew to find herself in the whirling midst of salacious … Read More »

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ABC Lands Darren Star Dramedy In One Of Paul Lee’s First Major Development Moves

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: After a bidding war, ABC has nabbed the Darren Star-produced dramedy based on Kim Gatlin’s book Good Christian Bitches. The untitled project, which will be written by Steel Magnolias and The First Wives Club scribe Robert Harling, has received a rich put pilot commitment by ABC after the network and CBS went down to the wire in their pursuit of the dramedy. I hear ABC’s new chief Paul Lee spearheaded the network’s efforts to land the project, which he considers a great fit for the ABC brand. While ABC, NBC and CBS all went after the dramedy when it hit the market at the end of last month, ABC, home to light female-centered fare like Desperate Housewives, was the obvious destination for the project, often described as “Desperate Housewives in Dallas.” It centers on Amanda Vaughn, a recently divorced mother of two who, to get a fresh start, moves back to the affluent Dallas neighborhood where she grew to find herself in the whirling midst of salacious gossip, Botox, and fraud. Harling, Star and Aaron Kaplan of Kapital Entertainment are executive producing the project, which, with ABC on board, is being laid off at ABC Studios. The project reunites Star with ABC where he most recently executive produced the 2008 dramedy series Cashmere Mafia. Read More »

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