Fall is no laughing matter

Few comedy pilots eyed for pickup

It looks like the comedy drought on broadcast television might continue for at least another year.

Sources speculated that just a handful of new half-hour series — as few as five — might land on the fall schedules, with some nets potentially picking up only one or no new comedy series. Meanwhile, dramas are making another strong showing, with about a half-dozen projects vying for slots at most networks.

One comedy hopeful, ABC's "Sam I Am," and the CW's one-hour "Reaper" have inched closer to a series pickup as they have received permission to begin making staffing offers.

Meanwhile, NBC's hot sci-fi drama "The Bionic Woman," which received a thumbs up to begin staffing late last week, has tapped Glen Morgan for a two-year show deal to potentially serve as executive producer/co-showrunner with David Eick if the show is picked up to series as expected.

At ABC, in addition to "Sam," two other comedies have picked up momentum: the much-talked-about "Cavemen," based on the characters from the Geico commercials, and "Miss/Guided," which was shot months ago.

Additionally, there has been speculation that the robbery romp "The Knights of Prosperity," which was taken off the schedule, might return for a second season with Ray Romano as the new mark. Another freshman comedy, "Notes From the Underbelly," also is said to have a shot at coming back, along with veterans "George Lopez" and "According to Jim," with "Lopez" having the edge between the two.

"Pushing Daisies," the untitled Jon Feldman project, "Dirty Sexy Money," "Eli Stone," "Football Wives," "Cashmere Mafia" and "Marlowe" are among the strong candidates on the drama side.

The big guessing game at ABC is where on the schedule its "Grey's Anatomy" spinoff is going to land, with 10 p.m. Wednesday, 9 or 10 p.m. Monday and 10 p.m. Thursday slots being the most-discussed possibilities at the moment.

The dramas "Babylon Fields," the untitled Cynthia Cidre project, "The Man" and "Viva Laughlin" and the comedies "Fugly," "The Big Bang Theory," "The Captain," "The Giants of Radio" and "I'm in Hell" are said to be in contention at CBS. The untitled Cynthia Cidre drama starring Jimmy Smits is rumored for the 10 p.m. Thursday slot, with the period's current occupant, "Shark," potentially replacing "Close to Home" on Friday.

In addition to "Bionic," almost all other one-hour NBC pilots are in the running, including "Journeyman," "Chuck" and "Life," which are staffing. The network is said to have narrowed down the comedy field to "The IT Crowd," "Business Class" and "Lipshitz Saves the World."

" 'Til Death" looks like a sure thing to return for next season at Fox, possibly paired with the new comedy "Action News."

Actioner "The Sarah Connor Chronicles," which is rumored as a potential companion to "24," is hot on the drama side, with "K-Ville," "Them," "Canterbury's Law," "Nurses" and "New Amsterdam" also in contention.

At the CW, "Reaper" joins "Gossip Girl" as pilots that have been given the green light to begin making staffing offers.