'Aliens,' 3 dramas on CW's sked


The drama surrounding the CW's hot comedy prospect "Aliens in America" reached a happy conclusion Tuesday when the pilot was picked up to series and veteran writer-producer Tim Doyle was tapped as executive producer/showrunner.

As part of the deal, Doyle inked a two-year, seven-figure overall pact with CBS Paramount Network TV, which will be producing the series with Warner Bros. Television.

In addition to "Aliens," the CW, which is gearing up for its Thursday upfront presentation, ordered three new drama series -- "Gossip Girl," "Reaper" and the untitled South Africa project -- to fill the void from the departure of veterans "7th Heaven" and "Gilmore Girls" and cult favorite "Veronica Mars."

Additionally, the network handed out renewal notices to the comedies "Girlfriends" and "The Game" and the dramas "Smallville," "Supernatural" and "One Tree Hill."

"Aliens" is expected to join the CW's Monday comedy lineup of "Girlfriends," "Game" and the previously re-upped "Everybody Hates Chris," possibly airing behind "Chris" at 8:30 p.m.

"Aliens" would be taking over the spot vacated by "All of Us," which will not be returning for a fifth season.

"Aliens," about a Pakistani Muslim teen who comes to live with a U.S. family as an exchange student, took a long path to the airwaves. It originally was greenlighted to pilot in April 2006 to shoot in June for a midseason 2006-07 consideration. Even back then, the single-camera pilot was being eyed as a companion piece for "Chris" (HR 4/4/06).

In a rare case of a crossover between vertically integrated companies, the pilot was produced by NBC Universal TV Studios and penned/executive produced by studio-based writers Moses Port and David Guarascio.

While the completed pilot sat on the shelves for months, it has enjoyed the continuing support of the network's entertainment president, Dawn Ostroff, sources said.

But as "Aliens" began to emerge as the pilot to beat on the comedy side at the CW in the past week or so, NBC Uni TV pulled out from producing the series, with CW's sister studios CBS Paramount Network TV -- whose president, David Stapf is said to love the pilot -- and Warner Bros. TV stepping in. It is understood that NBC Uni TV will retain some financial interest in the series.

This past development season, Port and Guarascio, along with Joe Wiseman and Joe Port, penned and executive produced the NBC comedy pilot "The IT Crowd," which landed a midseason series order.

Moses Port and Guarascio are in first position on "IT" and won't be full-time executive producers on "Aliens," sources said.

Running the show will be Doyle, whose series credits include "Ellen," "Grace Under Fire," "Roseanne," "Jake in Progress" and "Andy Richter Controls the Universe."

"I'm grateful to Paramount and really excited to be working with Moses and David on 'Aliens In America,'" Doyle said. "This is a very cool project with really smart people. And I'm not just saying that because they hired me."

He is repped by CAA and attorney Abel Lezcano.

Meanwhile, two other CW comedy pilots, "Dash 4 Cash" and "Eight Days a Week," are said to still be in contention.

With its teen-angst theme, easy promotability and strong pedigree, "Gossip Girl" had emerged early on as the most promising pilot at the CW this year. Based on the popular "Gossip Girl" series of books, it was penned by "The O.C." creator Josh Schwartz and the show's Stephanie Savage.

Blake Lively and Leighton Meester lead the cast of the series about rich teens in New York.

The series pickup of "Gossip," from Warner Bros. TV and Alloy Entertainment, makes it two new series orders for Schwartz, who also has the dramedy "Chuck" ordered at NBC.

After getting close last year, ABC Studios landed a series order from the CW this year with "Reaper," a comedic drama starring Bret Harrison as the devil's twentysomething bounty hunter. The pilot, a co-production with the Mark Gordon Co., was written by Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters and directed by Kevin Smith.

The untitled South Africa project hails from CBS Paramount Network TV. Based on the British series "Wild at Heart," it is a family drama set at a South African game preserve.