TV Pilot Buzz: 'Nashville,' 'Arrow,' Mindy Kaling, '1600 Penn,' 'Elementary' Among Front-Runners
With the upfronts around the corner, THR has a look at which pilots are gaining steam heading into the broadcast networks' presentations to Madison Avenue buyers.
With less than two weeks to go until the broadcast networks roll out their plans for the 2012-13 television season, it's crunch time for the more than 80 pilots bidding for a slot on the fall (and midseason) schedule.
Projects from established showrunners including Shawn Ryan, Greg Berlanti, Ryan Murphy, Shonda Rhimes and Marc Cherry are screening this week for network executives, who hope that stars including Connie Britton, Bill Pullman, Mindy Kaling and Dennis Quaid turn enough heads to gain a place in primetime.
Here are a collection of the comedies and dramas gaining steam heading in to crunch time. Worth noting: While early buzz can be a good indicator, it doesn't always translate to a series order.
Soapy drama Nashville, starring Friday Night Lights' Connie Britton as a country music star at her peak teamed with a rising star (Heroes' Hayden Panettiere) from Thelma and Louise scribe Callie Khouri, is considered a safe bet at the Disney-owned network. … Marc Cherry's Devious Maids, an adaptation of the Mexican format with Susan Lucci attached, has heat heading into the final days of decision making. .... Fashion soap Americana, with Anthony LaPaglia and from North Country writer Michael Seitzman, is gaining steam, with internal conversations about it being "on brand" for the female-skewing network. Meanwhile, Radha Mitchell's crime syndicate adaptation Penoza, which has Twilight's Melissa Rosenberg on board as a writer/exec producer, and Shawn Ryan's island-set military drama Last Resort, starring Scott Speedman, are also in serious contention, though one source suggests departing from ABC's soapy, female core with this season's The River may have given Paul Lee's camp cold feet about veering off again. Meanwhile, Shonda Rhimes' period hotel drama Gilded Lilys, from Gossip Girl scribe KJ Steinberg and starring Torchwood's John Barrowman, and spooky drama 666 Park Ave., starring Lost's Terry O'Quinn, have not been ruled out.
Among the network's comedy offerings, which several sources have labeled as disappointing, country-themed multicamera effort Malibu Country, starring Reba McEntire, screened Wednesday to positive buzz, with Claudia Lonow's How to Live With Your Parents, Kyle Bornheimer starrer Red Van Man, Judy Greer's American Judy, Kal Penn's Prairie Dogs and multicam Only Fools and Horses all in contention.
The first to greenlight a pilot to series with its Matthew Perry comedy Go On, the struggling network already has a jump on the pack and has two more half-hour efforts currently staffing up. Ryan Murphy and Ali Adler's blended-family comedy The New Normal and Anne Heche starrer Save Me have both begun looking for writers, and the latter of which screened through the roof. … White House comedy 1600 Penn, created by and co-starring The Book of Mormon's Josh Gad, with Bill Pullman as the leader of the free world, is considered a sure thing though it has yet to begin staffing. … Also testing well was the network's Justin Kirk House-like single-camera veterinarian comedy Animal Kingdom. … Greg Daniels' adaptation of Brit series Friday Night Dinner, despite mixed feedback, is considered to have a shot because of The Office creator's value to the network. … Meanwhile, Jimmy Fallon's multicam effort Guys With Kids has internal heat, with his early involvement giving execs added confidence.
On the drama side, there's heavy interest surrounding JJ Abrams' Revolution. ... Dick Wolf drama Chicago Fire, starring The Vampire Diaries' Taylor Kinney, is being described as ER at a fire station with real "broadcast potential." … The network's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde effort Do No Harm, starring Steven Pasquale and Phylicia Rashad, looks to have heat. … Meanwhile, ensemble Western The Frontier is said to have turned out great, but the network remains hesitant on the period piece directed and exec produced by Thomas Schlamme. Also still in contention: murder-mystery Notorious and Jason Katims' medical drama County.
With considerable ratings needs and a desire to have more original year-round fare, there's talk of the younger-skewing network picking up at least five new dramas. (CW topper Mark Pedowitz told The Hollywood Reporter that he's holding off on comedies until he has stabilized the schedule.) Comic adaptation Arrow, starring Stephen Amell as the DC hero, and The Carrie Diaries with AnnaSophia Robb as a young Carrie Bradshaw, are both considered locks for series orders among the network's eight dramas. … Josh Schwartz crime drama Cult, starring Vampire Diaries' Matt Davis, has begun staffing, with the prolific producer possibly going 2-for-2 this development season. … The Good Wife's Mamie Gummer is receiving rave reviews for her role on medical drama First Cut, with her performance being described as a mix of Calista Flockhart in Ally McBeal and Ellen Pompeo in Grey's Anatomy. … Hunger Games-like effort The Selection, starring Aimee Teegarden (Friday Night Lights), hasn't impressed everyone and isn't coming off as the slam dunk everyone had hoped for. … With Pedowitz looking to expand the network's original scripted fare beyond fall, Beauty and the Beast -- starring Smallville's Kristin Kreuk in the adaptation of the 1980s CBS drama -- could earn a pickup as not all the network's series orders likely will be for fall alone.
Although it remains the most-watched network with the clearest brand, CBS is in need of a few replacements as many of its dramas grow long in the tooth. Of appeal: procedurals with a bit more character built in. Early front-runners Elementary, the modern take on Sherlock Holmes starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, and the untitled Ralph Lamb Western -- starring Dennis Quaid, Michael Chiklis, Jason O'Mara and Carrie-Anne Moss -- are considered as close to a lock as they get. … Female-fronted hours Applebaum, starring Rachelle Lefevre and Jay Mohr and based on Ayelet Waldman's Mommy Track Mysteries, and legal drama Baby Big Shot, with Janet Montgomery, could get pickups, with the latter possibly getting a fall slot and the former held for midseason. … The untitled Greg Berlanti-Nicholas Wootton cop drama starring Holt McCallany (Lights Out) remains in the mix.
Among comedies, the network is said to have loved Partners, from Will & Grace creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan and starring David Krumholtz, Michael Urie and Sophia Bush. … Insiders were said to also have loved the untitled Nick Stoller sad-sack comedy starring Michael Angarano, with the network mulling whether it would finally pickup a single-camera effort ("they'll have egg on their face if they don't do it," suggests one source of the big push the network made earlier this season to court single-cam fare). … The Greg Berlanti-Greg Malins comedy could see a pickup, with talk of the Martin Lawrence comedy moving forward care of his promotability (though some question the show's international appeal).
With the network looking to fill many needs, all reports indicate that Mindy Kaling will be departing Dunder Mifflin as her Bridget Jones-type doctor comedy from Universal Television is considered a lock, with one source indicating that it's as good as "on the schedule." … Also considered a strong contender is Rebounding, the late-season pilot order about a guy recovering from his fiancee's death, from Last Man Standing duo Joe Port and Joe Wiseman and exec produced by Modern Family's Steve Levitan. ... Despite mixed reviews internally, prospects are still good for The Goodwin Games, from How I Met Your Mother scribes Carter Bays and Craig Thomas and starring Becki Newton and Scott Foley. … Single-camera Mercedes Ruehl comedy El Jefe, screened Tuesday and -- along with Mike O'Malley's Prodigy Bully, Mike Royce's John Stamos comedy Little Brother and Dana Fox's Ned Fox is My Manny -- are all considered in contention.
On the drama side, Greg Berlanti's Cuba Gooding Jr. legal drama Guilty is said to have played well. … Pilot season's "big get" -- Kevin Williamson's Kevin Bacon serial killer drama -- hasn't screened but is considered to be a sure thing considering its star power and pedigree. … Josh Berman-Robert Wright medical drama Mob Doctor, with Jordana Spiro and Zach Gilford, is also said to have heat, with the Untitled Karyn Usher spy drama still in the mix.
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