12:45pm PT by Lesley Goldberg, Lacey Rose
CBS Orders 'Rush Hour,' 'Limitless,' 'Criminal Minds' Spinoff, Medical Drama, 2 Comedies
With its May 13 upfront presentation mere days away, CBS has begun doling out the remainder of its series orders.
The network, the most tight-lipped of the broadcast bunch, placed its first big bet on Warner Bros. Television's Supergirl with a midweek order. Now, it’s following that with drama orders to adaptations of Rush Hour and Limitless, its Criminal Minds spinoff, and medical entry Code Black. Those join comedies Angel From Hell and Life in Pieces has having made the cut from the nearly 20 produced this past pilot season.
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The orders comes as the network is giving a Super Bowl-lifted NBC a run for its money among the coveted 18-49 demographic as the 2014-15 season comes to a close. Among total viewers, CBS — home to hits including The Big Bang Theory, new addition Thursday Night Football and the NCIS franchise — will finish the season as the most watched network for the 12th time in 13 seasons. But the year wasn’t without significant hurdles, including the net’s ongoing struggles to launch a comedy that doesn’t have Chuck Lorre’s name attached and a collection of series, including Stalker, CSI: Cyber and even beloved The Good Wife, that haven’t impressed in the ratings. More worrisome, the traditional syndication market that’s long played a key role in CBS’ billion-dollar franchise formula is waning.
Looking ahead, CBS has ordered the following:
Medical drama Code Black is set in the busiest and most notorious ER in the nation, where the staff confronts a broken system in order to protect their ideals and the patients who need them the most. The series, from Intelligence's Michael Seitzman, is based on the feature documentary produced and directed by Ryan McGarry.
From ABC Studios, the cast includes Marcia Gay Harden — who replaced lead Maggie Grace when the pilot was retooled — as well as Bonnie Somerville, Raza Jaffrey and Luis Guzman. Marti Noxon (Lifetime's Unreal, Bravo's Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce) executive produces alongside Linda Goldstein-Knowlton, McGarry and David Semel, who directed the pilot.
Code Black was one of multiple medical dramas developed this season — and nudged out CBS TV's LFE for the slot — as CBS' Nina Tassler has made the genre a high priority for the network.
The new member of the Criminal Minds franchise — now titled Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders — aired Feb. 8 as a planted spinoff of the flagship, which is awaiting a renewal. The drama focuses on a division of the FBI that helps American citizens who find themselves in danger abroad.
The drama, from Criminal Minds showrunner Erica Messer, is also exec produced by Mark Gordon and Nick Pepper. The series, co-starring Gary Sinise, Daniel Henney and Tyler James Williams, is a co-production between ABC Studios and CBS Television Studios. Missing from the cast is Anna Gunn, who had a central role in the backdoor pilot.
With the order, Criminal Minds rejoins CBS' roster of procedurals with multiple series on the air (NCIS, CSI).
Limitless, for its part, is based on the 2011 feature film of the same name and follows Brian Sinclair (Jake McDorman) as he discovers the power of the mysterious drug NZT, and is coerced into using his newfound drug-enhanced abilities to solve weekly cases for the FBI. Dexter's Jennifer Carpenter co-stars alongside Hill Harper and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.
Writer Craig Sweeny (Elementary) exec produces the CBS Television Studios drama alongside K/O Paper Products' Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Heather Kadin as well as Bradley Cooper and Todd Phillips, with Cooper rumored to cameo in the pilot. Relativity's Ryan Kavanaugh, Tucker Tooley and Tom Forman will also executive produce. The company's Andrew Marcus and Ray Ricord will co-executive produce. The pickup gives Kurtzman/Orci four shows on the broadcast schedule next season: Hawaii Five-0 and Scorpion at CBS as well as Fox's Sleepy Hollow.
Rush Hour, meanwhile, is produced by Warner Bros. Television and is based on the New Line feature film trilogy of the same name. The series revolves around a stoic, by-the-book Hong Kong police officer (Jon Foo) who is assigned to a case in Los Angeles, where he's forced to work with a cocky African-American LAPD officer (Justin Hires, 21 Jump Street) who has no interest in a partner.
Bill Lawrence and Blake McCormick (Cougar Town) penned the pilot and exec produce alongside Doozer's Jeff Ingold and the film's Brett Ratner, Arthur Sarkissian and Jon Turteltaub, who directed the pilot. Aimee Garcia and Wendie Malick co-star. (Lawrence also had a CBS comedy pilot starring Tommy Johnagin in contention, though sources tell THR that it's no longer going forward.) The pickup could give Lawrence two shows on the schedule next season should NBC renew sophomore comedy Undateable.
All four dramas are based on existing formats, giving CBS a leg-up with marketing. For their part, Rush Hour and Limitless were among the crush of remakes to be developed this season as networks bet on existing fan bases to lure new viewers in an increasingly crowed scripted landscape. CBS' pair of remakes join ABC's Uncle Buck with Fox also expected to order its Minority Report drama to series.
On the CBS comedy side, the network has picked up two half-hours — both single-camera vehicles.
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Angel From Hell was one of two comedies Tad Quill (Samantha Who) had in the works at the network (the other, Taxi-22, is not yet considered dead). The comedy centers on Amy (Glee's Jane Lynch), who when she enters Allison's (Maggie Lawson) life, claims to be her guardian angel and together they form an unlikely friendship — though Allison can’t be sure if Amy is an angel or just nuts. Kyle Bornheimer and Kevin Pollak co-star in the comedy from CBS Television Studios.
Rounding out the orders is Life in Pieces, from superproducer Aaron Kaplan. The comedy, written on spec by Better Off Ted's Justin Adler and picked up straight to pilot, is a comedy about one family told through the separate stories of its different family members. The ensemble cast includes Dianne Wiest, James Brolin, Zoe Lister Jones, Colin Hanks, Angelique Cabral, Thomas Sadoski and Betsy Brandt.
The order gives Kaplan at least six shows on the air: ABC's Secrets and Lies, HBO's Divorce, ABC Family's Kevin From Work and Chasing Life, as well as Nick's Instant Mom. Meanwhile, of Kaplan's six pilots this season, he still has NBC's Strange Calls in the mix and is awaiting word on a second-season order for Mysteries of Laura.
With the pickups, CBS' total orders for next season are five dramas and two comedies. The network ordered six and two, respectively, last year.
Keep up with all the renewals, cancellations and new series orders with THR's handy Scorecard.