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PILOT SEASON 2014: The Overachievers

By | Monday February 24, 2014 @ 4:06pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

overachieversHere is Deadline’s annual list of The Overachievers Of Pilot Season. For anyone, landing a pilot is a major accomplishment. These selected few individuals/production companies took that achievement to the next level.

Related: Primetime Pilot Panic!

3artslogoWith marquee comedy clients including Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Kevin Hart, 3 Arts has been building a strong TV production business. The management/production company has set a new personal record this season with nine greenlights. That includes one straight-to-series order for the Tina Fey/Robert Carlock comedy Tooken at NBC, one pilot/series track order at Fox for Cabot College, from Matt Hubbard, Fey and Carlock, and five more pilots: the comedies untitled Kevin Hart project at ABC, Amy Poehler’s Old Soul and Love Is Relative at NBC and Tom Papa’s More Time With the Family at CBS, plus untitled Richard LaGravenese drama at ABC. Additionally, three 3 Arts pilots from last season, Mulaney and Mr. Robinson, recently received series orders for next season.
AmblinTVAmblin TV has one pilot/series track order at Fox for drama Red Band Society, starring Octavia Spencer, and pilot orders for drama The Visitors at ABC and comedy The Money Pit at NBC. Additionally, the company scored a straight-to-series order this season for sci-fi drama Extant, which landed Halle Berry as the lead, for a summer launch.
Related: PILOT SEASON: How Many Orders Is Each Broadcast Network Eyeing This Year
Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly‘s Timberman-Beverly has a straight-to-series order at ABC for untitled David O. Russell/Susannah Grant drama and three pilots at CBS, comedy The Odd Couple starring Matthew Perry and untitled John Cusack and David Marshall Grant drama projects.
kapitalAaron Kaplan‘s one-man indie shop Kapital Entertainment landed a pilot order with series penalty at ABC for Secrets & Lies, toplined by Ryan Phillippe, and pilot orders for drama The Mysteries of Laura starring Debra Messing at NBC and comedy Dead Boss starring Jane Krakowski at Fox. Read More »

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ABC Orders Romantic Comedy Pilot From Jeff Lowell, Brillstein & Peter Traugott

By | Tuesday January 7, 2014 @ 1:45pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Jeff LowellUPDATED: ABC continues to be aggressive this pilot season, handing out early orders. The latest pilot green light has come for a half hour single-camera comedy project from writer Jeff Lowell (John Tucker Must Die) and Brillstein Entertainment Partners. ABC Studios, where Brillstein is under a TV deal, is producing. Former Brillstein TV president Peter Traugott is in negotiations to executive produce, marking a reunion with the company where he spent 15 years before moving to NBCUniversal in June 2011 with a three-year overall deal. Traugott, who originally developed and executive produced the Jeff ABC-logo__131029011334-150x150Lowell project that was set up at NBC during the 2010-11 season through BEP and ABC Studios, is still based at Universal TV but has asked Uni TV for permission to return as an exec producer. Written/exec produced by Lowell, the untitled half-hour is described as a romantic comedy that exposes the unfiltered internal monologues of a young couple embarking on a new relationship. For Traugott and his producing partner Rachel Kaplan, who also worked at BEP, the Jeff Lowell comedy had been a favorite project. When the rights to the script were recently reverted back to Lowell, he, Traugott and Kaplan took it out to the marketplace, getting strong interest from ABC, which had been looking to get ahead of the pilot curve with early pickups. Because of the project’s history, ABC Studios … Read More »

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Deadline Advisory: 2014 Pilot Panic Is Live

By | Tuesday January 7, 2014 @ 8:03am PST
Nellie Andreeva

primetime-panic-2The holiday break is over and that means pilot season is upon us. Like Deadline does every year, we will help guide you through it all with extensive coverage of pilot orders, castings, staffing; we will be tracking pilots’ and bubble series’ pickup chances and dissecting trends. Like a topic that seems to be on everyone’s mind right now — how tough casting pilots is going to be this season — which was the focus on my year-end story “Will Broadcast Pilot Season Paradigm Finally Be Broken & Other TV Industry Questions For 2014“. Check it out if you missed it last week. And keep checking our Pilot Panic page, which has listings of broadcast and cable pilots that are updated daily as well as Deadline’s entire pilot season coverage in one place.

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LA Pilot Production Rises But Loses Market Share: FilmLA

By | Tuesday June 25, 2013 @ 1:41pm PDT

Pilot production in LA is up for the 2012-2013 season, but the region’s market share hit near record lows, according to a report released today by FilmLA. Additionally, the non-profit permitting group says that California’s $100 million a year Film & TV Tax Credit program has only stopped “a tiny amount of runaway production.” In its wide-ranging ninth annual TV Pilot Production Report, FilmLA mixes a lot of the good news with the bad. The good news is that $277.8 million was spent in the region during pilot season, up from the $262 million paid out last year. Production days were up 40% from the last pilot production cycle of the comparable January 1-June 10 period last year. And the group says that 96 of the 186 broadcast and cable pilots produced during the cycle were made in LA. “By one measure, this is the second largest annual tally in Los Angeles’ history, totaling four projects more than the prior cycle and just six fewer than L.A. handled during its peak year of ’04/’05. Indeed, the Los Angeles region saw a large increase in the amount of on-location pilot filming,” says the report.

Related: PILOT LOCATIONS: LA Makes Drama Rebound, NY Gains In Comedy, New Orleans Hot

The bad news is that only 52% of the pilots that were produced this year were made in Los Angeles. While not the all-time low of 51% from 2011, the results are down almost double digits from the 61% of last year and way down from the 82% peak hit in 2007. Just 22% of drama pilots were shot in LA, with many moving across the county or to Canada. “After L.A., the top four competitors for pilot production in ’12/’13 were New York (19 pilots), Vancouver (15 pilots), Atlanta (9 pilots) and Toronto (6 pilots). Trailing the top four were New Orleans and Chicago, which each hosted five pilots,” today’s report notes. Read More »

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UPFRONTS 2013: Year Of Second Chances

By | Wednesday May 15, 2013 @ 8:30pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

It’s been another upfront where projects that had been rejected in the past got to shine. Of the four new scripted series showcased at the Turner upfront presentation today, three had been previously developed at other networks. That includes David Baldacci/Shane Brennan’s TNT drama King And Maxwell, which was at CBS; Howard Gordon/Jeffrey Nachmanoff’s TNT drama Legends, which was at NBC; and Bill Lawrence/Greg Malins TBS comedy Ground Floor, which was at CBS.
UPFRONTS 2012: The Year Of Underdogs, Comebacks & Second Chances
Later today at the CBS upfront presentation, the network unveiled We Are Men, a new single-camera comedy series from writer Rob Greenberg, who had written the pilot years ago. A number of times CBS had asked him to convert it to multi-camera. He didn’t. It finally was picked up as Greenberg’s original single-camera vision last summer but almost died when one of the four leads could not be cast. The pilot ended up filming late in the traditional pilot season after landing a cast that includes Tony Shalhoub, Kal Penn and Jerry O’Connell, and today it landed a coveted spot on the CBS fall schedule.

Yesterday, ABC gave its highest-profile slot for a new comedy series, the … Read More »

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UPDATE: Which Pilots Are Still Alive At CBS?

By | Sunday May 12, 2013 @ 9:10am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

NCAA Men's Basketball Final on TBSUPDATE SUNDAY 9 AM: Happy Mother’s Day! I’ve learned more about what still is in play at CBS. The network is considering possible additional series pickups. The pilots in contention are dramas Backstrom, Reckless and NCIS: Red and comedies Friends With Better Lives and Bad Teacher. So far, CBS has picked up four comedies, two multi-camera (Mom, The Millers) and two single-camera (We Are Men, Crazy Ones). The pilots under consideration are one of each, multi-cam (Friends) and single (Bad Teacher). Additionally, I’ve learned that CBS is in discussion with Sony TV about both Jim Gaffigan and the Irish American family comedy pilot The McCarthys, which could undergo retooling/some reshots for future consideration. Sony TV also produces Bad Teacher, so, like at NBC, where the studio successfully completed a complex negotiations involving three pilots and Community, the indie studio is in another round of multi-project talks. Sony had the Beverly Hills Cop pilot at CBS, which didn’t go. It had a big penalty, which I’d guess would be factoring into the conversations. Of the other pilots, Backstrom and Friends are from 20th, NCIS: Red and Reckless from CBS TV Studios.  Read More »

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UPFRONTS 2013: NBC’s Scheduling Challenges

By | Saturday May 11, 2013 @ 5:51pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

NBC faces the task of scheduling six new comedies for next season with only two returning half-hour series: Community, which received an eleventh-hour 13-episode renewal, and Parks & Recreation. The network may just have the right man for the job. This is head of scheduling Jeff Bader‘s first turn at bat after moving to NBC last summer. As a long-time scheduling topper at ABC, he was presented with a similar challenge four years ago when the network picked up five new comedy series and returned two. Like Parks & Rec and Community, those two returning comedies, Scrubs and Better Off Ted, were quirky cult shows and not anchors that could launch new series. What Bader and ABC brass did back then was let Scrubs and Ted be, pairing them together for what became both series’ final season. Then they took four new comedies and launched a new two-hour comedy block on Wednesday. It worked – three of the four comedies are still on the air: Modern Family and The Middle on ABC and Cougar Town on TBS. (The fourth, Hank, was quickly cancelled.)

Bader may take a similar approach at NBC. Like at ABC in 2009, the two returning NBC comedies are workplace, while most of the new series are family or family-esque (Michael J. Fox, Welcome To The Family, The Family Guide, Sean Saves The World, About A Boy). Coincidentally, the last new comedy series this year, Undateable, is a multi-camera show about dating, which was also the case at ABC in 2009 with Romantically Challenged, which was scheduled behind Dancing With The Stars. Read More »

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UPFRONTS 2013: The Big Comedy Reboot

By | Saturday May 11, 2013 @ 2:46pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Clues had been coming in for the past couple of weeks. After last fall failed to produce a single breakout new comedy series, the networks stepped up their comedy development efforts. That resulted in a glut of hot comedy pilots that made network executives giddy. It was clear that, with the nets fawning over their comedy development, they would likely bet heavily on new half-hour series. But they went further — an almost complete redo of last season on the comedy side, as if it never happened. Out of 16 new comedies picked up last May, only one, Fox‘s The Mindy Project, has been renewed. Another one, ABC‘s The Neighbors, is expected to join it after a deal is completed. Compare that to 7 freshman half-hour series who made it to Year 2 last May.

So far, 19 new comedy series have been picked up for next season by the broadcast networks. One to two more will likely be added by Monday, with NBC‘s Craig Robinson and CBSFriends with Better Lives among those talked about. (Fox’s To My Assistant and NBC’s Assistance also have a shot down the road after possible retool.)  Not surprisingly, NBC leads the pack with 6 half-hour series already ordered. With The Office leaving, NBC pretty much wiped the slate clean, only bringing back Parks & Read More »

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Primetime Panic: Which Pilots Are Still Alive

By | Friday May 10, 2013 @ 10:26pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

In the onslaught of series pickups and passes over the past couple of days, it is hard to keep track of the pilots that have not been picked up to series, which are dead and which are still alive. It is still early to tell about CBS, which is not done yet picking up new series (pilots Backstrom and Friends With Better Lives are among a number which are still in contention). Additionally, CBS is shopping Beverly Hills Cop, which got a pass from CBS. And I hear the Jim Gaffigan comedy, which is not going for fall, will likely undergo reshoots. Here is a rundown of what pilots are still in contention (not for fall) at the other nets:

ABC: Comedy Bad Management is still alive, and ABC is looking for a way to make it. Dramedy Murder In Manhattan and comedy Pulling are dead at ABC but are being shopped by producer ABC Studios to cable networks.

NBC: Drama I Am Victor starring John Stamos and comedy Assistance starring Krysten Ritter are alive and will likely be retooled. Also still in contention is the Craig Robinson/Greg Daniels comedy pilot. Another comedy pilot, Brenda Forever, may undergo reshoots.

Fox: Comedy To My Future Assistant is alive and there is talk about switching it from single-camera to multi-camera. Nothing at the CW.

Related: NBC Pilot Update: Projects That Read More »

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NBC & Sony Make Deal: ‘Community’ Renewed; ‘Blacklist’, ‘Night Shift’ & ‘Welcome To The Family’ Picked Up

By | Friday May 10, 2013 @ 5:13pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

After a couple of days of intense and complex negotiations between NBC and Sony TV, all four projects that were part of the talks received orders by NBC. That includes The Blacklist, the highest testing NBC drama pilots in 10 years, blended family comedy pilot Welcome To The Family and off-cycle medical drama pilot The Night Shift, all picked up to series. (Sony’s fifth pilot at NBC this year, comedy Brenda Forever, remains in contention.) And of course, Community. A day after the cult comedy ended its fourth season, it got a fifth. The renewal is for 13 episodes. Here are descriptions of NBC’s newly picked up Sony series:

“THE BLACKLIST”
For decades, ex-government agent Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader, “The Office,” “Boston Legal”) has been one of the FBI’s Most Wanted fugitives. Brokering shadowy deals for criminals across the globe, Red was known by many as “The Concierge of Crime.” Now, he’s mysteriously surrendered to the FBI with an explosive offer: He will help catch a long-thought-dead terrorist, Ranko Zamani, under the condition that he speaks only to Elizabeth “Liz” Keen (Megan Boone, “Law & Order: Los Angeles”), an FBI profiler fresh out of Quantico. For Liz, it’s going to be one hell of a first day on the job. What follows is a twisting series of events as the race to stop … Read More »

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Fox Picks Up Andy Samberg & Chris Meloni Comedies, ‘Us & Them’ And ‘Enlisted’, Almost Doubles New Series Volume

By | Wednesday May 8, 2013 @ 7:15pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Having just ordered its new drama series for next season, Fox also has made its comedy pickups, ordering four new shows in addition to the previously ordered Dads, executive produced by Seth MacFarlane. They are the Andy Samberg starrer, now titled Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Surviving Jack starring Chris Meloni; Enlisted starring Geoff Stults; and Us And Them starring Jason Ritter and Alexis Bledel. All have received 13-episode pickups. Additionally, the order for the Seth Green-Giovanni Ribisi starrer Dads, originally for 6 episodes, has been upped to 13. The new comedies join newly picked-up dramas Rake, Gang Related, Sleepy Hollow, and Almost Human. That is five new comedy series and four dramas, almost double the number of new scripted series Fox picked up last year (three comedies, two dramas). With American Idol on its last legs, the network clearly is stocking up on the scripted side and expanding its push in live-action comedy. Studio-wise, four of the new shows came from Fox sibling 20th TV, two each from Warner Bros and Sony and one from Universal TV.

Fox’s four new half-hour series choices came out of the five half-hour pilots that had been in contention from the get-go. Over the past week or so, the fifth, To My Future Assistant, began to fade as I hear it came in below exceptions. Meanwhile, Surviving Jack (formerly I Suck At Girls) has been steadily rising, buoyed by what I hear were stellar testing results for Meloni. The former Law & Order: SVU star originally turned down the project, and it took a lot of effort on the part of the producers to get him to do it. It was all worth it as the actor helped secure the pilot a series pickup. Also playing in the pilot’s favor is the fact that Surviving Jack comes from veteran comedy showrunner Bill Lawrence. It is shaping up to be a strong pickup season for Lawrence, whose NBC comedy pilot Undateable also looks very good to get a series order, along with Second Floor on TBS. Fun fact: Fox is reuniting Cougar Town co-creators Lawrence and Kevin Biegel, who is behind another newly picked-up comedy series, Enlisted.

With the pickups, Fox has a total of eight new and returning comedy series on tap for next season. Four of them are guy half-hours — cop show Brooklyn Nine-Nine (formerly Schur/Goor), Army comedy Enlisted, Dads and Surviving Jack — and female/family series New Girl, The Mindy Project, Raising Hope and Us And Them. While Us And Them, about a couple navigating their family and friends, would fit seamlessly into Fox’s existing Tuesday comedy block, it is unclear what the network would do with its guy shows, which could stand on their own as a block or get scheduled around Fox’s male-skewing Sunday animated comedies. Fox’s comedy pilots that didn’t make the cut are Assistant, Two Wrongs and The Gabriels. Overall, Fox didn’t throw curve balls in its series orders this season, largely sticking with pilots that had emerged as frontrunners. Here are descriptions of Fox’s new comedy series along with first-glimpse photos:

Related: PRIMETIME PILOT PANIC: Rumor Mill

Related: Fox Picks Up Dramas ‘Rake’, ‘Gang Related’, ‘Sleepy Hollow’ And ‘Almost Human’
Read More »

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PRIMETIME PILOT PANIC: The Latest Buzz

By | Sunday April 28, 2013 @ 4:54pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

It’s pilot screening time. CBS just started viewing its pilots, with the other networks slated to follow over the next few days. Feedback from the screenings and extensive focus group testing inform the networks’ series pickup decisions and are capable of catapulting a pilot from an also-run to frontrunner status overnight, as it happened with CBS’ Blue Bloods three years ago. Here is what I hear as of this weekend, with information still missing on a few late pilots.

Related: Complete Primetime Panic Pilot Listings

Drama Lucky 7 may live up to its name. The blue-collar ensemble about gas station employees who win the lottery seemed a little off brand for ABC and its glitzy dramas. But I hear the project based on a British format, which hadn’t drawn much attention, came in above expectations, making it a contender in what’s shaping to be a very tight race. It’s tight because two slots have already been penciled in for Marvel‘s S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Once Upon A Time spinoff, whose early footage I hear ABC brass liked. Also boosted by corporate synergy is major contender Big Thunder, based on the Disney ride. Word is ABC may choose one of its two soapy pilots, Westside and Betrayal, with Westside having the edge at the moment. (However, Betrayal‘s David Zabel has two irons in the fire as he is also behind Lucky 7.) The gothic soap Gothica has cooled off a bit while high-concept The Returned, about deceased coming back to life as their old selves, is heating up after another great pilot directing performance by Charles McDougall who, in his typical fashion went over on filming days (by 4 I hear) but delivered a strong pilot. Among the character procedurals, Murder In Manhattan, Doubt, Killer Women and Influence all seem in the mix. Read More »

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PILOT LOCATIONS: Los Angeles Makes Drama Rebound, New York Gains In Comedy, New Orleans Hot

By | Tuesday April 23, 2013 @ 7:10am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Following several years of declines in the number of drama pilots shot in Los Angeles, the City of Angels staged a comeback this season with 14, reclaiming the top spot as the most popular drama pilot destination after falling for the first time to No. 3 last year behind New York and Vancouver. Los Angeles benefited from the increased overall pilot volume this season, housing 13 of this year’s 48 hourlong pilots, up from 8 (out of 41) last year and 11 (out of 42) the year before, and just short of the 2010 haul of 14 pilots (out of 43).
New York, fresh off luring back The Tonight Show, has become a comedy pilot magnet. The Big Apple already has solid comedy credentials on the cable side with FX’s Louie and HBO’s Girls, but I can’t think of any major half-hour broadcast pilot shot in New York since NBC’s 30 Rock, which just ended its seven-season run. This year, there were a whopping five (all single-camera): NBC’s Michael J. Fox project, which has straight-to-series order, and Assistance; CBS’ Jim Gaffigan and untitled Rottenberg & Zuritzsky project; and Fox’s Us And Them. In some cases, the choice of location was dictated by talent (like Fox). In others, the producers felt it was hard to fake New York or the East Coast in Los Angeles, where virtually all comedy broadcast series have been filming. The 2010 New York filming tax program, which already led to the explosion of NY drama pilot production from zero pilots in 2010 to 11 last year, is helping rein in production costs, which are still higher than a Los Angeles-based half-hour pilot but not by as much as before. With the comedy boon, New York managed to post a new record of 13 pilots, though the number of dramas slipped from 11 to eight. Read More »

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PRIMETIME PILOT PANIC: More Early Buzz

By | Saturday April 13, 2013 @ 4:58pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

There is exactly one month to go until the broadcast networks begin to unveil their 2013-14 schedules to advertisers during premiere week. The first completed pilots have just started to come in, but we’re still a couple of weeks away from getting a more realistic picture of the this year’s pilot standings. For now, the info we share is based on buzz (thus the headline), and early insights from table reads, tapings, dailies and rough cuts. So don’t forget to pick up a large grain of salt before reading this. Now that you have been warned:

Chuck Lorre has done it again. Not that his clout alone was not enough to make his newest pilot Mom an instant frontrunner for the fall schedule the day it was greenlighted by CBS in December. Still, for CBS’ peace of mind, they were hoping the show would come together well. The network brass just got their wish with a rousing table read. The only remaining question surrounding Mom is where it will land on the schedule. I hear Monday 8:30 PM as a likely possibility. It makes a lot of sense, as How I Met Your Mother is already a strong launching pad that most recently helped establish 2 Broke Girls last year. Next season, the veteran comedy is expected to get extra sizzle from the fact that it is going into its final season that will finally reveal who the mother is. Plus, HIMYM and Mom will likely share sensibilities as they share the same director, Pam Fryman. As I wrote in my first early pilot buzz post, CBS brass appear very pleased with their comedy development this season, so if they pick up more multi-camera pilots, Friends With Better Lives is hot, and the Greg Garcia multi-camera pilot starring Will Arnett is coming off a solid table read. Competition is shaping to be as cutthroat on the single-camera side where CBS will likely opt for at least two shows to form a single-camera block. Greg Garcia’s Super Clyde was an early standout, with Crazy Ones boasting an in-form Robin Williams. The Bad Teacher remake and Irish American family comedy The McCarthys also seem to be in the mix, with the long-brewing Rob Greenberg pilot and Rottenberg/Zuritsky garnering positive very early buzz. Read More »

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Wizards From Oz: What’s Up With Aussie Actors’ Proliferation Of Pilot Season?

By | Wednesday April 10, 2013 @ 3:24pm PDT

Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney

Yesterday, Deadline posted a Funny Or Die video made by American actor Brian Guest in response to the proliferation of Australian actors being cast in broadcast pilots this season. His “agent” tells him at one point in the video, “You’re doing great work, you’re just not Australian.” As Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva pointed out, this has been a sore topic for Hollywood talent agents and their American-born clients this season as the nets bet heavily on actors from Down Under. So what’s all the hubbub about?

At least 23 Aussies have been cast in pilots this season, an unprecedented number. Some are unfamiliar commodoties Stateside like Luke Mitchell, Bob Morley, Chris Egan, Lincoln Lewis, Rick Donald and Luke Bracey, who were all regulars on the Seven network’s long-running TV soap Home And Away. Others are established names like Miranda Otto, Jacki Weaver, Toni Collette, Melissa George, Rachael Taylor and Anthony LaPaglia.

One factor driving the upsurge is that U.S. producers are tapping Australian-based casting agents to source talent. Kirsty McGregor, hired this year by 20th Century Fox TV to work on all its drama pilots, was instrumental in casting Donald in Fox’s CBS comedy pilot Friends With Better Lives. Another is the growing trend of Aussies to submit audition tapes online without the need to go to Los Angeles to try out in person. “Technology allows Australian actors to self-test and be seen by American casting directors with little time delay, so they can be considered for projects whilst often being in Australia or another country,” says Morrissey and Associates’ Mark Morrissey, whose clients include Bracey, Lewis, Morley and film actors Jai Courtney and Chris and Liam Hemsworth. Read More »

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PRIMETIME PILOT PANIC: The Early Buzz

By | Saturday April 6, 2013 @ 1:32pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

It’s the first week of April, and we’re kicking off our annual Pilot Buzz series. Keeping with tradition, the first list only includes a limited number of projects that have been garnering strong early buzz as the vast majority of pilots are still filming or going through post-production. So we will omit those on which there is no conclusive feedback yet and will reserve judgement on those that we hear not so good things about until next time.

If the rather dull Pirates Of The Caribbean Disney ride spawned a successful movie franchise, could the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad do the same on the small screen? Despite taking jabs for its origins and casting mostly unknowns, Big Thunder is a surprising early leading contender on the drama side at ABC. Not so surprising is the very strong early showing of the McG-directed Romeo and Juliet-esque soap Venice, with another soapy drama, Betrayal, and the horror take on Once Upon A Time, Gothica, also drawing some early attention, while Reckless and The Returned are emerging as dark horses. Then there is a drama pilot with a zero buzz that is all but assured a spot on the schedule, Joss Whedon’s S.H.I.E.L.D. Why isn’t anyone talking about S.H.I.E.L.D.? Because virtually no one has seen it, with Marvel and Whedon keeping the footage under lock and key. And then there is the Once Upon A Time spinoff presentation, which is now filming and has got to be considered a prime contender for a series order.

On the comedy side, the David Spade starrer Bad Management is hot, as is the Cullen Bros. project, with people singling out the great comedic performance of star James Caan. Adam Goldberg’s How The Hell Am I Normal also has momentum, as do early pickups Trophy Wife starring Malin Akerman and Super Fun Night starring Rebel Wilson, who is breaking out in a big way and is hosting the MTV Movie Awards next weekend.

In the past two years, Fox had a clear early comedy favorite with New Girl and The Mindy Project, respectively, both of which rode the momentum to series orders. This time around, it is a male-centered half-hour that is getting the strongest yearly buzz, the Andy Samberg-starring Mike Schur/Dan Goor cop comedy. Since the three comedy series Fox has renewed for next season all have female skew, Raising Hope and especially New Girl and The Mindy Project, the Schur/Goor project could be a potential companion for the male-centered Dads, which already has a six-episode order and is coming off a strong table read. Given its pedigree — Family Guy and American Dad creator Seth MacFarlane is executive producer — some suggest Dads may break into Fox’s Sunday animated comedy block the way Malcolm In The Middle launched behind The Simpsons. There are two other male-skewing pilots that are getting some buzz, Army-based Enlisted and dating comedy I Suck At Girls, which stars Christopher Meloni. On the female/family comedy side, Us And Them (aka Friends And Family) and To My Future Assistant are getting solid buzz, with The Gabriels also a possibility. Read More »

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LA City Council Waives TV Pilot Fees To Grow Local Production

By | Tuesday February 26, 2013 @ 3:07pm PST

The Los Angeles City Council today unanimously passed a measure eliminating fees that TV pilots pay to film in the city. The politicians also passed a measure to waive similar fees for the first year for any LA-filmed pilot that is picked up to series. Proposed last year by councilman and Hollywood-friendly mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti, the measures are designed to stop the siphoning of production and jobs from LA to other cities and regions. Permitting organization FilmLA says 92 pilots were produced in LA last year out of a total of 152. Read More »

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PILOT SEASON: Casting Gets Ahead Of Pilot Orders This Year

By | Tuesday December 18, 2012 @ 1:31pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Every year, TV studios do preliminary work on their highest-profile broadcast projects in anticipation of a pilot pickup. That work has been mostly low-key, consisting of putting together wish lists and sending out feelers to name actors to gauge their interest. But this fall, an unusually large number of pilot hopefuls have hired casting directors and issued breakdowns, initiating a formal casting process before a green light. Some, like the CW’s Amazon and NBC’s Alfonso Cuarón/J.J. Abrams drama, focused on casting the crucial lead characters — a young Wonder Woman and a 10-year-old girl in possession of a great gift/powers, respectively. Shawn Ryan/Eddie Murphy’s Beverly Hills Cop reboot for CBS also cast its lead with Brandon T. Jackson before the script had been finished.

Other projects have released full-blown breakdowns. That includes Fox’s drama Rake, starring Greg Kinnear and executive produced by Peter Tolan; comedy I Suck At Girls from Bill Lawrence; and the untitled Mike Schur/Dan Goor comedy, which has Andy Samberg attached to star. Most if not all of those projects already have rich pilot production commitments, making pilot orders a sure bet. Another project with such a commitment, Adam Goldberg/Seth Gordon’s 1980s comedy How the F Am I Normal at ABC, also hired a casting director a month before its official pilot order this past Friday. And the show with the biggest deal this season, NBC’s Michael J. Fox comedy, which has a 22-episode commitment off a pitch, also has a casting director in place and is actively casting. Read More »

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LA Pilot Production Nears Record High For 2012 Despite Drama Exodus: FilmLA

By | Tuesday June 12, 2012 @ 4:15pm PDT

The report released today from nonprofit FilmLA shows that 152 broadcast and cable pilots were produced during the 2011-2012 development cycle, the second most productive year ever. Of those, 92 were filmed in the LA area, the second-biggest total in history after the 101 filmed here in 2004-2005. (Last year, 87 pilots were filmed in LA.) The biggest boost as usual came from comedy pilots (91% of all sitcoms were shot locally). But dramas continue their decline: Only 29% of filmed drama productions shot in LA, compared with 63% in 2006-2007 and 38% in 2008-2009. FilmLA cites competing incentives as a main reason for the exodus: 53 one-hour drama projects were shot this cycle outside LA in Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, as well as in Canada and Australia. “Some form of production incentive was available in every one of the non-California locations used during the ’11/’12 development cycle”, the report said. (Read it here.) FilmLA estimates that $262 million was spent on TV pilot production in LA in 2011-2012, with costs breaking down to about $2 million to shoot a comedy and $5.5 million for a drama.

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