Among the dates announced today is for the upcoming The 100, which is stretching into summer. A Wednesday, June 11 finale is set for the series, which is getting strong buzz and touted as a potential long-term player for the network. It debuts March 19. The network also said its acquired four-hour, two-part period miniseries Labyrinth will premiere its first two hours Thursday, May 22 and conclude the next night. The series, which jumps back and forth between modern and medieval France as it follows the lives of two women separated by centuries but united in their search for the Holy Grail, stars John Hurt, Sebastian Stan, Jessica Brown-Findlay, Vanessa Kirby and Tom Felton. It is based on the best-selling 2005 novel by Kate Mosse. Here’s the full list of finale dates:
Aussie Nathaniel Buzolic and Brit Lucien Laviscount have landed the leads in Supernatural: Tribes, the planted Supernatural spinoff, which will air as an episode of the veteran sci-fi series on April 29. The choices blend the CW‘s strategies of casting standout players from its existing series as pilot leads, which is the case with Buzolic, a recurring on The Vampire Diaries and guest star on offshoot The Originals in his role as Kol, as well as bringing completely new faces, like Laviscount, whose only U.S. series credit is an arc on the BBC/Showtime comedy Episodes. Other recent examples include Arrow star Stephen Amell, who first appeared on TVD, and the star of last year’s The Selection pilot, Yael Groblas, who had no previous U.S. credits. (She now recurs on the CW’s Reign.) The CW also first cast Laviscount in The Selection last year, making this his second CW pilot in a row. Buzolic and Laviscount also continue the trend of overseas actors getting pilot leads this season.
PILOT SEASON: Walls Of Vertical Integration Fall Down As Orders For Projects From Rival Networks’ In-House Studios Skyrocket
It was 1999, the height of the cold war among the broadcast networks. Following the 1995 elimination of the fin-syn rules, which allowed networks to begin producing their own series, ABC, CBS and NBC started building up their in-house production arms with one mandate – to churn out product the nets would own. Cross-pollinating was considered almost heretic. Then in 1999, an ABC-based company, Jerry Bruckheimer TV, didn’t fold after getting a “no” from the network on its CSI pitch, instead setting the forensic drama at rival CBS. But vertical integration got in the way, with ABC deciding it wouldn’t be prudent to subsidize a rival by deficit financing the newly picked-up series — a $1 billion blunder for Disney as CSI went on to become a global hit. The last-minute pullout by ABC that left CBS scrambling put extra chill on the networks’ willingness to buy from the in-house production company of another network. (Fox sibling 20th Century Fox TV had long established itself as a major studio selling to everyone.)
Fast forward to 2014 when a whopping 10 projects from ABC Studios (5), Universal TV (3) and CBS TV Studios (2) have received series or pilot orders at rival broadcast networks so far, with pickups still underway. Here is how we got here. The ice among the broadcasters started to thaw a little in the mid-2000s. ABC’s in-house studio landed another hit on CBS with drama Criminal Minds, which it stayed with, and NBC’s production arm fielded a couple of short-lived series including Worst Week for CBS and Sons And Daughters for ABC. During the 2011 pilot season, there were two pilots from ABC’s, CBS’ or NBC’s production arms at rival networks: Weekends At Bellevue at Fox from Universal TV’s predecessor Universal Media Studios, and Ringer at CBS from ABC Studios. (Fox and UMS had an existing relationship via Fox’s hit drama House, sold by then-independent Universal Television just before its merger with NBC, while ABC Studios pulled out when Ringer moved to CBS sibling the CW.)
EXCLUSIVE: The Vampire Diaries‘ Rick Cosnett and Danielle Panabaker (Shark) are set to co-star opposite Grant Gustin and Jesse L. Martin in the CW pilot The Flash, based on the DC comic. The project, from Warner Bros TV and Berlanti Productions, is an origin story about Barry Allen aka The Flash (Gustin), a Central City assistant police forensics investigator who arrives in Starling to look into a series of unexplained robberies that may have a connection to a tragedy in his past. Cosnett plays star Detective Eddie Thawne, a recent transfer to the Central City Police Department, whose past is a mystery and who harbors a dark secret. Panabaker plays Caitlin Snow, a highly intelligent bioengineering expert who lost her fiancé during an explosion at S.T.A.R. Labs. Originally envisioned as a backdoor pilot episode of Arrow, Flash will now film a regular pilot directed by David Nutter, a move clearly geared toward a series pickup.
I don’t think I’ve seen this before — by the end of the Winter TCA, two broadcast networks, NBC and Fox, are almost done with their pilot orders. Of course, the orders this year are not just for pilots as the networks — especially Fox, and to some extent NBC — are mixing things up with series pickups and commitments and pilot “prototypes.” Here is where things stand.
Fox has 10 projects with a series order — or a variation of it — in production for next season: two event series, Wayward Pines and Gracepoint; 6-episode comedy Mulaney; 13-episode dramas Hieroglyph and Backstrom; Glenn Gordon Caron/Ben Affleck’s The Middle Man, which has five scripts written and is casting; a few pilots that are designed to go to series, including comic book drama Gotham and Spanish series adaptation Red Band Society, which are opening writers rooms, and comedies Fatrick and Cabot College (formerly untitled Matt Hubbard). Additionally, the network has serialized thrilled drama Runner, set against the U.S.-Mexico war over weapons and terrorism, on a series path with an order for additional scripts and a bible for off-cycle production, with another complex serialized drama, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced family thriller Home, expected to join it. The network also has a cast-contingent comedy pilot, Here’s Your Damn Family, produced by Johnny Galecki. Fox is expected to make a couple of more orders, with comedy Weird Loners said to be on the pickup runway and Will Forte’s Last Man On Earth and Dead Boss among those in contention.
NBC has ordered eight comedy pilots, two straight-to-series comedies (Tina Fey/Robert Carlock, Mr. Robinson), eight drama pilots and the 10-episode straight-to-series Wizard Of Oz project Emerald City, which, like Runner and Home, will set up a writers room and start working on backup scripts and a bible before going into production off-season. Another big-swing drama, John Glenn’s immaculate conception project, too has been given an order for backup scripts in lieu of a pilot order. With several event and miniseries also on tap (The Slap, Rosemary’s Baby), NBC is pretty much set on the drama side, with another pickup or two a possibility, and likely will order a couple of more comedy pilots, with the adaptation of the Tom Hanks movie The Money Pit and a Joe Port-Joe Wiseman half-hour among the hot prospects.
Law & Order alum Jesse L. Martin is set to co-star opposite Grant Gustin in the CW pilot The Flash, based on the DC comic. The project, from Warner Bros TV and Berlanti Productions, is an origin story about Barry Allen aka The Flash (Gustin), a Central City assistant police forensics investigator who arrives in Starling to look into a series of unexplained robberies that may have a connection to a tragedy in his past. Martin will play Detective West, an honest, blue-collar cop who is a surrogate father to Allen. This is a familiar territory for Martin, who is probably best known for his nine-year stint as Detective Ed Green on NBC’s Law & Order. He had been approached for several pilots before choosing The Flash.
Originally envisioned as a backdoor pilot episode of Arrow, Flash will now film a regular pilot. The move is clearly geared toward a series pickup as a stand-alone pilot would allow the series to “start off with a bang” the way Arrow did with its pilot episode, the CW president Mark Pedowitz said last week, adding that he is “bullish” on the project.
Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Is the CW’s new sci-fi series Star-Crossed a statement on racism or a teen romance? At today’s TCA, producers and cast defended the show’s right to be both. Set in the near future, the show pits the alien Atrians against the humans in the social cauldron that is high school. Borrowing a page from Romeo And Juliet, human girl Emery (Aimee Teegarden) is in love with Roman (Matt Lanter), an Atrian.
In their questions to the panel, TV journalists noted that the strongest link between aliens and humans in the series is that they are both really, really hot.
Like Nina Tassler, who runs sibling network CBS, the CW President Mark Pedowitz too plans to stick with the traditional pilots season despite Fox’s decision to abandon the model, announced by chairman Kevin Reilly on Monday. “We do not do that many pilots,” he noted. Indeed, the biggest complaint about pilot season has been the pressure to cast and produce so many pilots in so little time, chasing the same talent. The CW makes about eight pilots, about a third of the number most of the Big 4 networks, and the network doesn’t go for the same actors as its shows feature younger characters mostly cast with up-and-coming actors. Pedowitz also talked up the CW’s high pilot-to-series ratio, which is closer to a cable network than a broadcaster. In moving away from pilot season, Reilly said he was hoping to improve the network’s batting average, with fewer pilots and most of them going to series. In the CW’s two development seasons under Pedowitz, the network made eight pilots each year, with four of them going to series in 2012 and five in 2013, a very high percentage for a broadcaster. “For us it’s a very efficient system, and you learn things that you would never have seen otherwise,” Pedowitz said. “We are perfectly happy with the traditional system but wish Kevin well.”
Year-End: Will Broadcast Pilot Season Paradigm Finally Be Broken & Other TV Industry Questions For 2014
Broadcast executives for years have been preaching about switching to a year-round development cycle or adopting the cable model of producing fewer pilots with higher pilot-to-series ratio. They have been ordering occasional off-cycle pilots and have jumped on scripts with pilot orders in November and December but are yet to break the traditional pilot season paradigm. This coming year, they may be forced to. In 2013, we had what was probably the first true continuous pilot season, with existing and new cable and digital players constantly handing out pilot and straight-to-series orders. Add to that the new push into limited/event series arena, and there were at least a dozen projects casting at any time of the year. That has kept casting directors and TV talent agents busy and has further depleted the acting talent pool. Every year, there are a handful of pilots that are left unproduced because of difficulty casting. There is quiet panic in the air these days that this coming pilot season we will see a lot more of that. It is the logical next step after the proliferation of scripted programming across different platforms caused a shortage of writers, especially on the drama side, pushing the number of drama buys this development season way down.
A cancelled series used to mean a cast available for the following broadcast pilot season. When ABC in January 2010 announced that Ugly Betty was going to end that spring, it created a feeding frenzy for the stars of the show that pilot season. Now actors from cancelled shows are snatched long before the following broadcast pilot season rolls along. For instance, the CW said in May that drama Nikita was calling it a day with a final six-episode installment. Its male leads, Shane West and Aaron Stanford are already spoken for with big roles in cable projects — West is the male lead on WGN America’s first scripted series, drama Salem, Stanford is the lead of Syfy’s pilot 12 Monkeys, based on Terry Gilliam’s movie, with his Nikita co-star Noah Bean also cast in the pilot.
EXCLUSIVE: Feature producer Basil Iwanyk, whose resume includes The Clash Of The Titans and The Expendables franchises and The Town, is making a push in series television with three drama sales to NBC, TNT and the CW for projects written by Josh Parkinson (Eastbound & Down), James D. Parriott (Covert Affairs), and Eoghan O’Donnell (Teen Wolf), respectively. The NBC project hails from Sony TV, where Iwanyk’s Thunder Road Television recently had a deal. Iwanyk is executive producing all three projects with Thunder Road’s SVP Film & TV Kent Kubena, who oversees TV development. “We could not be more excited about the caliber of writers and material we’ve set up this season, as well as our upcoming development projects in the pipeline,” Iwanyk said.
Crime family drama By The Horns at NBC, written/exec produced by Parkinson, centers on a member of a notorious south Texas crime syndicate who decides to attempt a takeover of the whole organization when he learns the 14-year-old son of the newly named boss is actually his. Cataclysm drama Six at TNT, written/exec produced by Parriott, chronicles the aftermath of a Category 6 tornado that obliterates the majority of a small Kansas town and unearths years of horrific secrets. In sci-fi drama The Messengers at the CW, when a mysterious object crashes down to earth, a group of seemingly unconnected strangers die from the energy pulse — but then awaken again as angels of the coming Apocalypse. CBS TV Studios is producing, with O’Donnell writing/exec producing, The Good Wife EP Ted Humphrey supervising the script and also exec producing alongside Industry Entertainment’s Ava Jamshidi.
With Tuesday on fire and Wednesday and Thursday solid, the CW is taking another crack at Mondays where it has struggled this fall with Hart Of Dixie and especially Beauty & The Beast. After a monthlong hiatus, the former will relocate to Fridays in March where it will follow the second cycle of summer standout Whose Line Is It Anyway? On Friday, Hart Of Dixie will succeed fellow sophomore drama The Carrie Diaries, which had a 13-episode order. The CW’s new Monday lineup will consist of new midseason drama Star-Crossed and fall freshman The Tomorrow People, which will relocate from Wednesday night for a sci-fi block the CW brass hope will do better than Hart Of Dixie and Beauty & The Beast. Before the new lineup takes hold, CW’s Monday will go through a transitional period with newcomer Star-Crossed paired with holdover Beauty & The Beast for a month in a romance-themed combo. The Tomorrow People will be vacating the post-Arrow slot, which the CW wants to use as a launch pad for a second genre drama this season, midseason entry The 100, which is considered the most compatible with Arrow. After its March 10 telecast, Beauty & The Beast will go on hiatus, with return date for the remaining six original episodes TBD. Whose Line will warm up the Friday 8-9 PM period with repeats from last summer from February 14-March 14 before the sketch comedy launches its second season with two back-to-back originals on March 21. Starting the following week, a new Whose Line will air at 8 PM, followed by a repeat at 8:30 PM. Here are the CW’s midseason premiere dates: