Ray Richmond, who is contributing to Deadline TV coverage, is taking an analytical and irreverent look at the recurring themes in these year’s crop of broadcast pilots.
In assessing the 79 series pilots that are competing for primetime slots at the five broadcast networks during the 2011-2012 season, a few trends quickly emerge, namely: manhood is under siege, parents are obsessed with meddling, zombies are alive and well (relatively speaking), opposites attract, and just about everybody seems to be on some sort of rebound. Moreover, pretty much every permutation of domestic life and dysfunction is being trotted out for a once-over as the networks seek to uncover the next Modern Family or Two and a Half Men. And the popularity of Glee has helped to inspire a musical bent for three pilots.
Multicamera comedy is making a strong showing beyond its usual singular home of CBS. Too, high-concept drama is having a modest resurgence – and both period soaps (ABC’s Pan Am, NBC’s Playboy) and reboots of past classics (NBC’s Wonder Woman from David E. Kelley, ABC’s Charlie’s Angels) are again in vogue, at least in the pilot world. Another hour (ABC’s Grace, from writer-exec producer Krista Vernoff) sounds remarkably like the plotline for the 1979 Bob Fosse film classic All That Jazz, with this one starring Eric Roberts in the lead as a famed choreographer who sleeps with his dancers and has three daughters with different mothers.
Besides Grace, those tuneful contenders … Read More »
Frances O’Connor is set to co-star in Marc Cherry’s ABC pilot Hallelujah. It us set in the town of Hallelujah, Tenn., which is being torn apart by the forces of good and evil and whose fortunes change when a stranger, Rye Turner, comes to town, bringing justice, peace and possibly restoring faith. O’Connor will play Rye’s wife dealing with the aftermath of their son’s brain injury. This marks O’Connor’s return to ABC where she had a role on Cashmere Mafia. The actress, repped by Gersh, Rob Marsala and U.K.’s Artists Rights Group, joins previously cast Jesse L. Martin.
Scrubs alumna Kerry Bishe has landed the lead in the Fox single-camera pilot Iceland. The project, from writer-executive producer Andy Bobrow and Sony TV, centers on Mackenzie (Bische), a 20something woman whose fiance recently passed away. Also cast in the pilot is John Boyd. Bishe, repped by WME and Brookside Artists, will next be seen in Kevin Smith’s Red State. Read More »
Easy A helmer Will Gluck will make his TV directing debut with the Fox half-hour pilot Iceland, a single-camera romantic comedy from Sony TV about a group of friends moving forward after the loss of a loved one. UTA-repped Gluck, who started off as a TV comedy writer-producer, segued into feature directing with Fired Up!, Easy A and the upcoming romantic comedy Friends with Benefits, which he also co-wrote.
Mimi Leder is set to direct the CW pilot Heavenly, from writer-executive producer Richard Hatem and CBS TV Studios. Leder will also executive produce the pilot, about a dedicated young female attorney and a former angel-turned-human who tackle cases together at the attorney’s legal aid clinic. Emmy winner Leder, repped by CAA and Industry, has directed 6 pilots that have gone to series.
The World Is Not Enough helmer Michael Apted will direct Marc Cherry’s ABC drama pilot Hallelujah. It is set in the town of Hallelujah, Tenn., which is being torn apart by the forces of good and evil and whose fortunes change when a stranger comes to town, bringing justice, peace and possibly restoring faith. Law & Order alum Jesse L. Martin recently became the first actor cast in the pilot. Apted most recently directed The … Read More »
Former Law & Order star Jesse L. Martin is returning to series TV with a lead role in Marc Cherry’s drama pilot for ABC Hallelujah. Martin is the first actor cast in the project, which features musical elements. Hallelujah is set in the town of Hallelujah, Tenn., which is being torn apart by the forces of good and evil and whose fortunes change when a stranger comes to town, bringing justice, peace and possibly restoring faith. Martin will play a mysterious, charming drifter who crosses paths with the newcomer. The actor, repped by ICM and manager Bob McGowan, fielded interest from several pilots this season. He recently wrapped The Merchant of Venice opposite Al Pacino on Broadway and is filming the feature Joyful Noise opposite Queen Latifah, in which he plays her husband.
3RD UPDATE: ABC just greenlighted six drama pilots, including Marc Cherry’s Hallelujah, the Mark Gordon-produced Identity and Once Upon a Time, from Lost executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. Also picked up are the Oren Peli/Steven Spielberg collaboration The River, co-produced by DreamWorks TV, the Darren Star-produced Good Christian Bitches and the Count of Monte-Cristo-flavored Revenge, co-produced by Twilight producer Temple Hill. All six pilots hail from ABC’s sibling ABC Studios.
ABC programming chief Paul Lee received Cherry’s script, the Desperate Housewives creator’s first since the hit ABC dramedy, over the weekend and quickly moved with a pilot order. Hallelujah is set in the town of Hallelujah, Tenn., which is being torn apart by the forces of good and evil. Its fortunes change when a stranger comes to town, bringing justice, peace and possibly restoring faith. There is a music twist: the episodes of Hallelujah will be punctuated by songs sung by the gospel choir, which serves as a sort of Greek chorus. In addition to writing, Cherry is exec producing with Sabrina Wind. This marks the first production order for Cherry and Wind’s new production banner Wind Prods.
Identity, written by Eagle Eye scribe John Glenn, is based on an ITV/ITV Studio format and is an action procedural centered on an elite police unit formed to combat the explosion of identity-related crime. Glenn and Gordon are executive producing with Deb Spera and ITV’s Paul Buccieri.
… Read More »