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PILOT SEASON: The Rise Of Feature Directors

Nellie Andreeva

In a series of stories, I’ll take an analytical look at the current broadcast pilot season and some of its trends and heroes.

In what was probably the last big pilot director signing this season, Jaume Collet-Sera yesterday closed a deal to direct ABC’s The River hours before the premiere of his new movie, the Liam Neeson starrer Unknown. It was a fitting end to a pilot director hiring season that was dominated by feature helmers.

Among those signed for pilots are Jonathan Demme (CBS’ untitled Susannah Grant), Shawn Levy (Fox’s Comedy Album), Phillip Noyce (ABC’s Revenge), Antoine Fuqua (Fox’s Exit Strategy), James Mangold (CBS’ Rookies) Michael Apted (ABC’s Hallelujah), Eclipse director David Slade (NBC’s REM), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev (CBS’ Redlich/Bellucci), Mark Romanek (Fox’s Locke & Key) and Easy A helmer Will Gluck (Fox’s Iceland). Two filmmakers, Stephen Gaghan and Michael Patrick King, are directing their own scripts, NBC’s S.I.L.A. and A Mann’s World, respectively, while Peter Berg is directing NBC’s Prime Suspect, which he also produces. Also approached for pilots were McG, Tony Scott and Brett Ratner, but no deals were made, mostly because of feature scheduling conflicts.

The trend of going after feature directors for pilots started in the early 2000s with the success of CBS’ CSI, which was attributed in part to the show’s distinct look and visual effects brought in by feature director Danny Cannon, who made his TV debut with the … Read More »

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Phillip Noyce To Direct ABC Pilot ‘Revenge’

Nellie Andreeva

From Evelyn Salt to Emily Thorn: Feature director Phillip Noyce is returning to pilot directing duty with ABC’s Revenge. Like Noyce’s most recent feature assignment, the Angelina Jolie starrer Salt, Revenge has a strong woman at its center. Written by Swingtown creator Mike Kelley, it is a contemporary re-imagening of Alexandre Dumas, pere’s The Count of Monte Cristo from a female perspective and centers on Emily Thorn, a mysterious young woman who comes to the Hamptons to exact revenge on the people who destroyed her family.  ABC Studios and Temple Hill are producing. On the TV side, UTA-repped Noyce previously directed the pilots for Showtime’s Brotherhood and Fox’s Try Calling. He also executive produces the FX drama series Lights Out and directed an episode of HBO’s upcoming drama series Luck starring Dustin Hoffman.

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