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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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Joe And Anthony Russo Among Latest Pilot Director Hires

Nellie Andreeva

The Emmy-winning team of Anthony and Joe Russo have come on board to direct Fox’s comedy pilot The Council of Dads, from writer-executive producer Peter Tolan and Sony Pictures TV. Last year, the Sony TV-based directors who won an Emmy for directing the pilot of Arrested Development, helmed 2 pilots, ABC’s Happy Endings and Fox’s Running Wilde, both of which got picked up to series. The Russos also directed the pilot for the NBC comedy series Community.

Feature director David Slade (Eclipse) is in negotiations to direct REM, Kyle Killen’s drama pilot for NBC and 20th described as an Inception-style thriller about a cop  living in two different realities. This is the second consecutive pilot for Killen, who last year had Lone Star. Both attracted feature directors, Marc Webb and Slade, respectively, with both helmers making their pilot debuts.

Chris Koch, who directed the pilot for Fox’s midseaosn series Traffic Light, is on board to direct another single-camera comedy pilot, ABC’s Bad Mom, created by and co-starring British writer-actress-comedienne Sharon Horgan and produced by ABC Studios and Kapital Entertainment.

Veteran multicamera helmer Andy Ackerman has signed on to direct the ABC family comedy pilot Smothered, from Friends alums Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen. He is already attached to direct another half-hour pilot this season, I Hate My Teenage Daughter for Fox, and is eying a third, the Marisa Coughlan-penned Lost & Read More »

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Several Broadcast Pilots Book Directors

Nellie Andreeva

Alan Taylor, who won an Emmy for The Sopranos, has come on board to direct NBC’s drama pilot Playboy. The project, from 20th TV, Imagine TV and writer Chad Hodge, is set at a Chicago Playboy club in the 1960s. Taylor knows a thing or two about setting the tone and the style of a drama series set in the 1960s – he also directed the pilot for AMC’s Mad Men, which earned him an Emmy nomination. Taylor has directed a total of five episodes of the acclaimed cable period drama about Don Draper & Co.

David Nutter has committed to direct CBS’ medical-family drama The Doctor from Privileged creator Rina Mimoun. The Doctor was one of 3 Warner Bros. TV-produced pilots that Nutter was considering. His decision to go with The Doctor gives the medical drama an instant boost. Nutter is currently on a pretty remarkable streak of 16 consecutive pilots he has directed that have all gone to series.

British director Paul McGuigan (Lucky Number Slevin) has come on board to direct Shonda Rhimes’ ABC/ABC Studios drama pilot about a professional fixer. Also at ABC, Emmy winner Yves Simoneau, who directed the pilot for the networks’ V and serves as an executive producer on the series, has signed on to direct another ABC/ABC Studios pilot, Ed Bernero’s Partners, a police drama centered on two female police detectives who are … Read More »

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Four Drama Pilots Land Directors

Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: Four high-profile pilots have found directors. Mark Romanek is in negotiations to helm Fox’s Locke & Key, Jace Alexander is set to direct USA’s Eden, Jonas Pate has come on board to direct Syfy’s  Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, while Jim Sadwith has closed a deal to direct TNT’s untitled Allan Loeb pilot.

Based on the comic, Locke & Key, from 20th TV and writer Josh Friedman, is set in a mysterious New England mansion. This marks the TV debut of Romanek, who started off as a music video director. His feature credits include One Hour Photo and this year’s Never Let Me Go.

Eden, from Universal Cable Prods. and writers Ken and Mary Hanes, centers on a resourceful young concierge at an elite NYC hotel. ICM-repped Jace Alexander has become the go-to pilot director for the NBCU cable networks. He directed the pilots for USA’s hits Burn Notice and Royal Pains and Syfy’s hit Warehouse 13. He recently directed the pilot Three Inches, which is in contention for a series pickup at Syfy.

The two-hour Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, a Battlestar Galactica spinoff about the young years of Ensign William Adama, hails from Battlestar Galactica  executive producer David Eick and Universal Cable Prods. WME-repped Pate most recently served as co-executive producer-director on Syfy’s Battlestar prequel Caprica.

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