On The Bubble: Where Endangered Broadcast Series Stand

By | Wednesday April 9, 2014 @ 2:25pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

networklogosIt is very difficult for showrunners to wrap production on a season without knowing if their series would get another season. Unfortunately, that is the nature of the network business, and about two dozen shows go though that every year. Here is a look at each network’s comedy and drama series in peril and their odds for survival.

With all the drama carnage at ABC this season (Lucky 7, Betrayal, Killer Women, Mind Games, The Assets), the network is pretty lean on the hourlong side, and all shows currently on the air have a good shot at coming back. agents of shieldThat includes two freshman series, fall drama Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., despite slipping in the ratings, and midseason entry Resurrection. Of returning dramas, there is no doubt about renewals for Shonda Rhimes’ Grey’s Anatomy, especially with stars Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey signed on, and Scandal, as well as Castle and Once Upon A Time. While it was heavily on the bubble last season, country music drama Nashville appears in a stronger position this spring and looks likely to continue. And, despite its ratings erosion, Revenge remains a signature, upscale drama for ABC that the network also owns. Because of its heavy mythology with a revenge storyline that has been central to the show since the pilot, it is unlikely that ABC would abruptly end the series without giving it a final chapter to wrap things up.

Things are far murkier on the comedy side where there are three shoe-ins, anchors Modern Family and The Middle and freshman The Goldbergs. None of these hail from ABC’s sister studio, and building a steady comedy pipeline at ABC Studios has been important for the overall health of the company. There are three ABC Studios-produced comedy series on ABC at the moment, all on the bubble: freshmen Trophy Wife and Mixology and sophomore The Neighbors. The network will likely renew at least one comedy from its own studio. (Last year, it picked The Neighbors vs. 20th TV’s How To Live With Your Parents.) Of the three, Trophy Wife seems to have the biggest support and is the most promotable, with KATE SIMSES, ADAM CAMPBELLa star cast led by Malin Akerman and Bradley Whitford. But the name cast also makes Trophy Wife the most expensive, and its ratings are pretty soft. The Neighbors, which comes from prominent Disney writer Dan Fogelman, costs way less, and, while only doing so-so on Fridays, it could deliver something ABC Studios has not seen in a while: a third-year comedy. (Fogelman also has comedy pilot Galavant in the running at ABC.) Then there is Mixology, which has not done well behind Modern Family. It stands out with its unusual structure — set in a bar over the course of one night — it has quickly built a core fan base and has supporters at ABC. But relaunching a heavily serialized comedy in the fall four months after a brief midseason run would be a challenge and growing ratings for such a show with a continues storyline would be very difficult. ABC has a recent history of sticking with narrow, quirky relationship comedies like Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B—- but all were eventually cancelled. 20th TV’s Last Man Standing starring Tim Allen is quietly wrapping its third season. It has done a decent job as a Friday 8 PM anchor and is ABC’s only multi-camera series. With several high-proile multi-camera pilots, the network could use Last Man Standing as a building block. (How about Allen paired with another comedy vet, Henry Winkler of The Winklers?). Read More »

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CW Orders ‘Backpackers’ Digital Series For Summer Premiere

By | Tuesday April 8, 2014 @ 11:44am PDT

backpackers2CW Seed’s Backpackers is making the jump from online to primetime, with 10 original half-hour episodes set to premiere this summer on the CW. In the digital series Backpackers, best friends Ryan (Noah Reid) and Brandon (Dillon Casey) race across Europe … Read More »

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PILOT SEASON 2014: Network Casting Chiefs On This Season’s Biggest Challenges, Casting Coups & Fresh Faces

By | Friday March 21, 2014 @ 5:00pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Network Pilot Casting InterviewsSpring arrived yesterday, bringing the end of the annual two-month mad dash known as pilot casting season. Heading into pilot season this year, there was a lot of concern that the proliferation of original scripted programming on cable and digital platforms would put an additional strain on broadcast pilot casting, further depleting the talent pool. Going head-to-head with the casting of more than a dozen cable and digital pilots/series — including multiple-pilot slates on TNT, Amazon and FX and high-profile series on Viola DavisNetflix, USA and WGA America — the broadcast networks escaped mostly unscathed, successfully casting more that 80 pilots/direct-to-series, with only three comedy pilots rolled because of difficulties finding actors.

RelatedPilot Season 2014: The Overachievers

This pilot season brought an additional wrinkle, with Fox’s Kevin Reilly declaring in January that his network plans to bypass the traditional pilot cycle going forward. There were more straight-to-series and limited/event series orders this season, and several networks started casting a handful of projects early. But overall, it was mostly business as usual, with thousands of castings sessions crammed into eight weeks that resulted in the casting of more that 1,500 roles. We saw Oscar winners and happyendingsnominees like The Help‘s Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer (plus Halle Berry earlier in the season) come to television, TV stars like David Schwimmer, Patricia Arquette, Mary-Louise Parker and Josh Duhamel make a return, and the casts of cancelled shows Happy Endings and Nikita be sought after.

Related: Primetime Pilot Panic!

As we close the book on this year’s casting season, let’s hear from the women (and a man) who were in the middle of it all, leading the casting charge at the broadcast networks. I asked the exhausted heads of casting (“I need a vacation,” one of them exclaimed) Tess Sanchez (Fox), Keli Lee (ABC), Grace Wu (NBC) and Peter Golden (CBS), plus Lori Openden (the CW), whose network doesn’t compete directly with the Big 4 as it targets younger talent, to answer questions about the challenges of this pilot season, progress on cast diversity, their and their competitors’ biggest casting coups, the season’s biggest discoveries, and the toughest roles and types to cast. (Find out how many child actors Fox saw for the Bruce Wayne role in Gotham.) Here are their answers:

Read More »

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The CW’s ‘Famous In 12′ Hits The Road To Recognition On June 3

By | Thursday March 13, 2014 @ 3:48pm PDT

The CW logoThe youth-targeted network’s summer fling with TMZ has a launch date. The CW said today that Famous In 12, which it’s billing as an “unscripted series/social experiment,” will premiere June 3. The series follows an unknown family’s … Read More »

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Yael Grobglas Back With CW For ‘Jane The Virgin’; Brett Dier & Andrea Navedo Also Cast

By | Wednesday March 12, 2014 @ 3:59pm PDT

yaelgrobglas3__130410170256-200x276The CW wants to stay in business with Israeli actress Yael GrobglasThe network first cast the virtual unknown last year as the lead in drama pilot The Selection, and she recently finished a six-episode arc on Reign. Now the … Read More »

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Rose McIver Lands Lead In Rob Thomas’ CW Pilot ‘iZombie’, Based On DC Comic

By | Wednesday March 12, 2014 @ 9:00am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

mcivlerRose McIver, who plays Tinker Bell on Once Upon A Time, has been cast as the lead in Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero’s CW drama pilot iZombie, from Warner Bros TV. Based on the DC comic, iZombie is … Read More »

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PHOTO: First Full Look At CW’s ‘The Flash’

By | Tuesday March 11, 2014 @ 9:15am PDT

The CW and Warner Bros TV have been teasing fans about the network’s pilot The Flash, based on the DC Comics superhero and now in production. Two weeks ago came Grant Gustin’s headshot as his character’s alter ego Barry Allen. Now comes the full look at the … Read More »

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‘Son Of God’ Star Diogo Morgado Joins CW Pilot ‘The Messengers’

By | Wednesday March 5, 2014 @ 3:15pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Diogo Morgado Messengers CW PilotDiogo Morgado, who portrays Jesus in the feature Son Of God and its predecessor, miniseries The Bible, will be playing another kind of messenger in a CW pilot. Morgado has been cast as one … Read More »

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Gina Rodriguez Lands Title Role In CW’s ‘Jane The Virgin’, Brad Silberling To Direct

By | Thursday February 27, 2014 @ 11:15am PST
Nellie Andreeva

Gina Rodriguez Marching BandaFilly Brown star Gina Rodriguez is set to topline the CW‘s drama pilot Jane The Virgin, in keeping with the project’s Latin roots. Based on the successful Venezuelan telenovela Juana la Virgen, Jane The Virgin, … Read More »

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The CW Sets Series Season Finale Dates, ‘Labyrinth’ Premiere

By | Wednesday February 26, 2014 @ 10:38am PST

CW_logo__121204230324-200x137Among 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: Read More »

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Nathaniel Buzolic & Lucien Laviscount Land The Leads In CW’s ‘Supernatural’ Spinoff

By | Thursday February 20, 2014 @ 11:16am PST
Nellie Andreeva

supernaturalbuzolicAussie 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, the-cwas 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.

Related: Aussie Don Hany Nabs Male Lead In ABC Drama ‘Warriors’ As Overseas Actors Eye Another Strong Pilot Season
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CW Gives Early Renewals To ‘Arrow’, ‘The Vampire Diaries’, ‘Supernatural’, ‘Reign’ & ‘The Originals’

By | Thursday February 13, 2014 @ 11:15am PST
Nellie Andreeva

the-cwAs it has done in the past couple of years, the CW has given early renewals to its strongest series. The list includes flagship dramas The Vampire Diaries and Arrow, formidable veteran Supernatural and freshmen The Read More »

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Ahna O’Reilly To Topline CW Drama Pilot ‘Identity’

By | Tuesday February 11, 2014 @ 1:32pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Ahna O’Reilly (The Help,Ahna O'Reilly Fruitvale Station) is set as the lead in the CW drama pilot Identity, exec produced by Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci. Written by Corinne Brinkerhoff, Identity centers on Mia (O’Reilly), a grounded, … Read More »

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Candice Patton Cast In CW Pilot ‘The Flash’

By | Tuesday February 4, 2014 @ 11:45am PST
Nellie Andreeva

Candice Patton Flash Pilot Iris WestEXCLUSIVE: Candice Patton (The Game) has been cast 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 … Read More »

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UPDATE: CW Picks Up ‘iZombie’, ‘Jane The Virgin’ Remake, Alex Kurtzman/Bob Orci Terrorism Drama To Pilot

By | Wednesday January 29, 2014 @ 4:00pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

the-cwUPDATE 4 PM: One of the most buzzed about projects at the CW this season,  Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero’s drama adaptation of DC‘s  iZombie, also has received an official pilot green light. This … Read More »

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PILOT SEASON: Walls Of Vertical Integration Fall Down As Orders For Projects From Rival Networks’ In-House Studios Skyrocket

By | Tuesday January 28, 2014 @ 5:15pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Primetime Pilot PanicIt 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.)

Related: The Challenges Of Bypassing Pilot Season

ABC_Studios__121005011545Fast 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 Universal_Television_2011the 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 CBS-Television-Studios-Turquoise-Background-paramount-pictures-corporation-19259077-720-540rival 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.) Read More »

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Rick Cosnett & Danielle Panabaker To Co-Star In CW Pilot ‘The Flash’

By | Friday January 24, 2014 @ 5:29pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Danielle Panabaker Flash CWRick Gosnett Flash CWEXCLUSIVE: The Vampire DiariesRick 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 FLASH_Arrow w copyarrives 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.

Related: TCA: CW’s Mark Pedowitz “Bullish” On ‘Reign’ & ‘Flash’ Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘Rake’ Soft In Debut, ‘Michael J. Fox’ & ‘Sean’ Status Quo In Swap

By | Friday January 24, 2014 @ 9:46am PST
Nellie Andreeva

RakeFox’s streak of solid drama series premieres, The Following, Sleepy Hollow and Almost Human, came to an end last night when midseason series Rake opened with a 1.7 in adults 18-49. That wasn’t as bad as some … Read More »

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PILOT SEASON: How Many Orders Is Each Broadcast Network Eyeing This Year

By | Tuesday January 21, 2014 @ 3:32pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

primetime-panic-2I 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.

Related: Fox’s Abolishment Of Pilot Season: Practical Guide To How Will It Work

fox-tv-logo__130727010919-275x119Fox 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.

Related: TCA: Kevin Reilly Declares Fox Is Abandoning Pilot Season

NBC_logoNBC 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. Read More »

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