ABC snaps up series in a 'Flash'

Fiennes-starring sci-fi show latest pickup as net wastes no time on pilots

ABC officially has picked up the drama "Flash Forward." The show, already being promoted on the network, received a 13-episode order Friday night.

Based on Robert J. Sawyer's novel, the Joseph Fiennes- starring series chronicles the aftermath of a global event in which everyone blacks out for 2 minutes, 17 seconds and has mysterious visions of six months into the future.

David Goyer and Brannon Braga co-wrote the pilot, which Goyer directed. Both will exec produce the series, but because of Braga's commitment to Fox's "24," where he is an executive producer, he won't be involved full time on "Flash."

"Eli Stone" co-creator/exec producer Marc Guggenheim has come aboard as an exec producer and will run the series with Goyer.

Jessika Goyer, Vince Gerardis and Ralph Vicinanza also are executive producing.

Originally developed at HBO, which retains a piece of the backend, "Flash" landed at ABC after heated bidding with Fox. From the get-go, it has been considered compatible with the network's hit "Lost" and a potential successor to the mystery drama, which is heading into its sixth and final season.

Not surprisingly, ABC two weeks ago launched a teaser promo campaign for "Flash" during "Lost." The new series is expected to launch in the fall.

ABC has been the most aggressive among the broadcast networks this year in handing out early series pickups to its strongest pilots.

The order for "Flash" came hours after the network brass screened it to a strong reception. It follows ABC's Thursday pickup of the new comedy "Modern Family."

In addition to Fiennes, the "Flash" cast includes Sonya Walger, John Cho, Jack Davenport, Brian F. O'Byrne, Courtney B. Vance, Christine Woods, Zachary Knighton and Peyton List.

With ABC's pilot screenings slated to wrap today, other hot prospects at the network include the mystery drama "Happy Town" and Jerry Bruckheimer's "The Unknown," both enjoying rave reviews. Also going strong are the Courteney Cox-starring comedy "Cougar Town" and the contemporary witch take "Eastwick."

"V," an update of the 1980s miniseries, is heading into its Monday screening with a strong buzz, with the dramas "Empire State" and "Limelight" also in contention.

On the comedy side, the Patricia Heaton starrer "The Middle," which was filmed months ago, is picking up heat after a solid screening.

Three other pilots have the strong presence of stars going for them: Alyssa Milano ("Romantically Challenged"), Kelsey Grammer (the untitled Kelsey Grammer project) and Cedric the Entertainer ("The Law"). (partialdiff)