Fall pilots picking up steam

ABC orders 'Family'; projects generating buzz at other nets

The comedy "Modern Family" on Thursday became the first ABC pilot to get a series order for next season.

The network handed out a 13-episode order to the single-camera mockumentary about three suburban couples -- traditional, gay and multiethnic -- after the 20th TV-produced pilot screened and tested very well.

ABC opted for an early order on the project, from veteran writer-producers Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, so it can start staffing right away.

The ensemble cast includes Ed O'Neill, Sofia Vergara and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

Also on tap for a series pickup at ABC is drama "Flash Forward," which already is being promoted on-air, with the order expected after the network brass screen the pilot.

Also hot at ABC are drama "Happy Town" and comedy "Cougar Town." "Empire State" and Jerry Bruckheimer's "The Unknown" are heating up, and Ricky Blitt's comedy "Romantically Challenged" is still looking promising, along with dramas "Eastwick," "V" and "Limelight" and the untitled Kelsey Grammer comedy.

At CBS, the "NCIS" spinoff is still a lock for fall. The Julianna Margulies-starring legal drama "The Good Wife" is very hot, along with the comedies "Accidentally on Purpose," "Happiness Isn't Everything" and "Waiting to Die." The jury is still out on medical dramas "Miami Trauma" and "Three Rivers"; neither is breaking through for now.

At Fox, "Human Target" is the one to beat on the drama side, with urban comedy "Brothers" and drama "Past Life" heating up. The comedy "Sons of Tucson" remains in contention, along with medical drama "Maggie Hill."

At the CW, "Melrose Place" continues its march to the fall schedule. With "Privileged" inching closer to a renewal, the battle for last one or two available slots is fierce among "Vampire Diaries," "Beautiful Life," "Light Years" and the "Gossip Girl" spinoff.