4:30pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
ABC Orders 'The Mayor,' Zach Braff Comedy, 'Gospel of Kevin,' 'Crossing,' 'Good Doctor,' Shondaland Drama to Series
With American Idol already confirmed to take up a chunk of real estate on ABC's schedule, the Disney-owned network further solidified its 2017-18 schedule Thursday with a handful of series pickups.
Ordered to series are comedy The Mayor and the Zach Braff comedy formerly known as Start Up as well as dramas For the People (from Shondaland), The Crossing, The Good Doctor and The Gospel of Kevin. Of those, only The Good Doctor and the Braff comedy hail from outside studios (Sony Pictures Television) and the rest are in-house at ABC Studios.
The Mayor, executive produced by Tony winner Daveed Diggs (Hamilton), revolves around an outspoken, idealistic rapper (Search Party's Brandon Micheal Hall) who runs for office as a publicity stunt and actually gets elected, surprising everyone (including himself) when he has a natural knack for the job and slowly transforms City Hall.
Speechless' Jeremy Bronson penned the script and exec produces the ABC Studios single-camera comedy alongside Diggs, Jamie Tarses, Scott Stuber and James Griffiths. Lea Michele, Yvette Nicole Brown (who was cast in second position to CBS' The Odd Couple), Bernard Jones, Marcel Spears and David Spade round out the cast.
The musical comedy had been generating solid buzz and comes as ABC has been looking for more workplace comedies to help offset its roster of family-focused half-hours.
For the People hails from Shondaland's Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers and has been called the legal version of veteran Grey's Anatomy. Set in the Southern District of New York Federal Court, aka "The Mother Court," the legal drama follows brand-new lawyers working on opposite sides — for both the defense and the prosecution — as they handle the most high-profile and high-stakes cases in the country, all as their personal lives intersect. Scandal's Paul William Davies penned the script and serves as showrunner, exec producing the ABC Studios entry alongside Rhimes and Beers. Britne Oldford (Hunters), Ben Rappaport (The Good Wife), Anna Deavere Smith (Nurse Jackie), Hope Davis, Vondie Curtis Hall, Rege-Jean Page, Susannah Flood, Wesam Keesh, Lyndon Smith and Ben Shenkman round out the cast.
The pickup means Rhimes' ABC Studios-based Shondaland banner will have at least four shows on the network's schedule in the 2017-18 season as Grey's, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder have already been renewed. Still on the bubble is sophomore drama The Catch, while Still Star-Crossed has yet to debut.
The Gospel of Kevin, which brings Agent Carter showrunners Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters back to ABC, is a light drama about Kevin (Parenthood's Jason Ritter), a down-on-his-luck man who is tasked by God with a mission to save the world. Cristela Alonzo, JoAnna Garcia Swisher, India de Beaufort, Dustin Ybarra, Chloe East and J. August Richards co-star in the ABC Studios project that is said to have been an early favorite as the Disney-owned network looks for lighter fare to broaden out its programming.
Alonzo, who previously created and starred on the network's family sitcom Cristela, will not be moving forward with the series, and her part will be recast.
The Crossing stars Steve Zahn and revolves around refugees from a war-torn country who start showing up to seek asylum in an American town. Only the country they're from is America and the war they are fleeing is 150 years in the future. The local sheriff with a past, a federal agent and a mother in search of her missing refugee daughter drive this allegory with a surprising conspiracy at the center. Sandrine Holt and Natalie Martinez star in the ABC Studios drama from writers/exec producers Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie (Criminal Minds). Rob Bowman directed the pilot. Watch a teaser for The Crossing, below.
The untitled Zach Braff comedy stars and is exec produced and directed by the Scrubs alum. It is based on the podcast Start Up and revolves around a brilliant radio journalist, husband and father of two who is about to do something crazy — quit his job and start his own company. He quickly discovers it’s going to be a lot harder than he thought.
The single-camera comedy reunites Braff with Scrubs grad Matt Tarses, who penned the script and exec produces alongside Davis Entertainment's (recently canceled Dr. Ken and renewed The Blacklist) John Davis and John Fox. The comedy hails from Sony Pictures Television, where Davis Entertainment is under an overall deal. Tiya Sircar, Michael Imperioli, Hillary Anne Matthews, Chris Sacca, Elisha Heig, Audyssie James and Austin Pendleton round out the cast. The comedy has been a frontrunner all season long after landing at ABC with a hefty put-pilot commitment with multiple networks bidding. Braff, meanwhile, is seen as a marketable leading man — a key element for broadcast networks as they look to cut through the cluttered marketplace and 450-plus scripted originals.
The Good Doctor is based on a South Korean format and centers on a young surgeon with Savant syndrome (Bates Motel grad Freddie Highmore) who is recruited into the pediatric surgical unit of a prestigious hospital. The question will arise: Can a person who doesn't have the ability to relate to people actually save their lives?
The drama marks the broadcast return for David Shore (House, Battle Creek), who penned the script and exec produces alongside Hawaii Five-0 star Daniel Dae Kim. The drama hails from Shore's Sony Pictures Television-based Shore Z banner. It marks a key sale for independent studio Sony TV, which has veteran comedy The Goldbergs at the network.
Richard Schiff, Antonia Thomas, Nicholas Gonzalez, Hill Harper, Irene Keng, Beau Garrett and Chuku Modu round out the cast, with exec producers also including Sebastian Lee, David Kim, Erin Gunn and Lindsay Goffman as co-exec producer. Watch a promo for The Good Doctor, below.
Nearly all of ABC's new fall shows — save for the Braff comedy and drama The Good Doctor — are produced in-house at ABC Studios. The ownership push comes as broadcast networks continue to put a premium that amid sinking ratings and ad dollars.
Keep track of all the broadcast renewals, cancelations and series pickups with THR's handy scorecard.