After the euphoria of upfront presentations, where network executives touted their new shows with short trailers, those shows are getting their first real test at the L.A. Screenings, where international buyers watch the full pilots of all new shows. It has been a strong development season for drama, not so much for comedy, and that has made for solid screenings as high-end drama series is U.S. top TV export.
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“This could be one of the best years we’ve had in 10 years,” said Jeffrey Schlesinger, President of Warner Bros Worldwide Television Distribution. “Big shows, big producers, big stars and strong concepts.” That is the case across the board this year. Warner Bros, which saw all seven of its regular hourlong pilots picked up to series, has been getting buzz for the Batman origin series Gotham, from Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon; another series based on a popular DC Comics superhero franchise, The Flash, from Greg Berlanti; and procedurals The Mysteries of Laura, also from Berlanti and directed by McG, and Forever.
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After ad buyers at last week’s upfronts, it is international buyers’ turn to get a glimpse of the broadcast networks’ crop of new shows. The annual LA Screenings are wrapping after marathon sessions of the studios unveiling their new series, with talent and producers on hand to promote them. After lackluster LA Screenings last year, with international buyers lamenting the lack of breakouts, there is some excitement this week. That is a promising sign for the broadcast networks as the screenings usually serve as a good barometer — last year’s broadcast freshman class indeed failed to produce major hits. The interest seems spread almost evenly between drama, which normally travels better overseas, and comedy this year. Not surprisingly, hot NBC drama pilot The Blacklist is garnering a ton of attention for producer Sony TV. Also hot at the studio is 1980s comedy The Goldbergs. Interestingly, Australian networks are very high on Rake, a remake of an Australian series. Additionally, Michael J. Fox, star of Sony TV’s new NBC series The Michael J. Fox Show, has been receiving enthusiastic reaction from buyers who waited up to an hour for a photo with the actor at the studio’s party Monday. Star power also is boosting 20th TV’s new comedy The Crazy … Read More »
After comedy stole the spotlight at the L.A. Screenings last year with breakout hits 2 Broke Girls and New Girl, dramas are returning to center stage during this week’s affair, where international buyers are gathering to sample the new crop of U.S. series. While several series are gathering buzz, there don’t seem to be big standouts at the screenings, which are still going on in Los Angeles. (at right: a photo from Warner Bros’ party Wednesday night.) Maybe it was the recent series finales of Desperate Housewives and House fresh in his mind, but a Western European buyer spoke nostalgically of the 2004 L.A. Screenings that featured Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, House and Lost. “We haven’t had such a strong group of new shows since,” the buyer said.
Among the new shows gettings thumbs-up is Warner Bros’ superhero CW drama Arrow. “It was surprisingly good,” said Ruediger Boess, head of acquisitions for Germany’s ProSiebenSat1. “It’s darker and older than the standard CW shows, and its very well cast.” Two other dramas — HBO’s The Newsroom from Aaron Sorkin and Fox/Warner Bros’ The Following starring Kevin Bacon — have made an big impression too. The Newsroom, which screened two episodes Sunday that were introduced by Sorkin, received applause from the audience. Boess called the series, set behind the scenes at a cable news network show, “an outstanding masterpiece of television.” The issue with The Newsroom and the violent The Following, described by a buyer as “a darker Criminal Minds,” is that they can’t be shown on free TV networks, at least not before 10 PM. Read More »
The week after the L.A. international screenings, Canadian broadcasters announced their new U.S. series acquisitions for next season. Top-rated CTV has picked up seven new U.S. series for fall — reality The X Factor, dramas Pan Am, Unforgettable, Charlie’s Angels, Grimm and Once Upon a Time and comedy Whitney — and three dramas for midseason: Smash, Good Christian Belles and Missing. Citytv has picked up dramas Terra Nova, The Playboy Club, Revenge, Person of Interest, Alcatraz and Scandal and comedies 2 Broke Girls, New Girl, Suburgatory, Last Man Standing and Apartment 23. Global went for fall dramas Prime Suspect and Ringer and midseason dramas The 2-2 and The Firm. The Canadian and U.K. markets are good barometers of what from the crop of new U.S. shows is hot as most U.S. shows are up for grabs there, unlike the rest of the world, where the vast majority of broadcasters are tied to long-term output deals with U.S. TV studios.
U.S. comedies have harder time than dramas traveling internationally. But strong showings by new half-hour series at the broadcast upfronts last week were followed by solid performances at this week’s L.A. Screenings, where international buyers gather to sample the new crop of U.S. series. Upfront standouts — Warner Bros.-produced CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls and the 20th TV comedies New Girl (Fox) and Apt. 23 (ABC) — did very well. Read More »