Part of a series that takes an analytical look at the current broadcast pilot season and some of its trends and heroes.
It has been a big year for non-writing producers this pilot season, the biggest since the so-called “invasion of the pod people” in 2003 when the broadcast pilot season and May series pickups for the first time were dominated by shows developed via pods, i.e. companies run by non-writing producers based at major studios.
There are a lot of familiar faces – some of the overachievers of the 2003 season are back in full force: Eric and Kim Tannenbaum, Brillstein Entertainment and Reveille as well as Imagine TV and Marty Adelstein. But Bruckheimer TV, a pilot season staple for the past decade and a top performer in 2003 with 3 pilots, all picked up to series, is without a pilot for the first time in years. (However, the company’s Fox project, a dramedy based on the life of music supervisor Kathy Nelson, has been pushed and remains in contention.)
But the big news this pilot season are the upstarts, companies formed in the past year-and-a-half, which have done very well. Leading the pack is the 20th TV-based Chernin Entertainment, which has had a dominating performance with 5 pilots this season: the Kiefer Suthaland starrer Touch, which is expected to get an episodic order at Fox, Stephen Gaghan’s cop drama S.I.L.A at NBC, Fox’s untitled Liz Meriwether comedy starring Zooey Deschanel, Fox comedy Outnumbered and NBC comedy Lovelives. The company already has 3 upcoming series, Fox’s Terra Nova - which it is co-producing with 2 of the other top performers this pilot season, DreamWorks TV and Kapital Entertainment – Fox’ animated comedy Allen Gregory and A&E’s Breakout Kings, which also started on broadcast.
Other recently formed TV companies that landed pilots this season include Aaron Kaplan’s indie Kapital Entertainment (ABC’s comedy Bad Mother, ABC dramedy Good Christian Bitches, NBC Western The Crossing), Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci’s 20th TV-based K/O Paper Products (Fox’s Ethan Hawke starrer Exit Strategy directed by Antoine Fuqua and another Fox drama, graphic novel adaptation Locke & Key), Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Warner Bros.-based Fake Empire (ABC soap Georgetown starring Jimmy Wolk, the CW drama Hart of Dixie starring Rachel Bilson), Shawn Levy and Marty Adelstein’s 20th TV-based 21 Laps/Adelstein (ABC’s untitled Jack Burditt comedy starring Tim Allen), Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen’s ABC Studios-based Temple Hill (ABC’s drama Revenge directed by Phillip Noyce) and Scot Armstrong and Ravi Nandan’s UMS-based American Work (NBC’s untitled Lennon Parham/Jessica St. Clair comedy)
In another twist this year, three independent production companies that operate outside of the studio system are having a great year. DreamWorks TV, a strong performer in 2003 with 5 pilots, 2 of which, Las Vegas and Line of Fire, went to series, has 3 pilots this year, second only to Chernin Entertainment, and tied with two another indies, Reveille and Kapital, as well as the ABC Studios-based Brillstein Entertainment and CBS TV Studios-based Tannenbaum Co. DreamWorks has NBC’s Broadway-themed Smash starring Debra Messing, ABC’s horror thriller The River directed by Jaume Collet-Sera and Fox’s Locke & Key. Reveille, which in 2003 had its Coupling remake picked up to series, has NBC comedy pilot My Life As an Experiment, Fox comedy Tagged and CW drama Awakening. Read More »