'Mentalist' gets Heller, Nutter


UPDATED 7:37 p.m. PT Feb. 26

CBS has picked up its first post-strike pilot, Bruno Heller's crime drama "The Mentalist."

Meanwhile, ABC is considering yet another improbable renewal of the long-running comedy "According to Jim."

The pickup for "Mentalist" came on the same day CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves said that "pilots are vastly overrated" and vowed to do fewer expensive ones.

Top TV director David Nutter is in negotiations to direct the project, which centers on a mentalist who uses his skills of observation to solve crimes as an independent detective working with the police.

"Rome" co-creator Heller penned the pilot and is executive producing with Nutter. Warner Bros. TV is producing. The deal reunites Nutter with CBS, where he directed the pilot and two first-season episodes of the long-running crime drama "Without a Trace."

Nutter, whose pilots regularly go to series, most recently directed the pilot and the second episode of Fox's big budget sci-fi drama "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles." His recent pilot credits also include the CW's "Supernatural" and ABC's "Traveler."

As for "Jim," ABC is in talks with producer ABC Studios about bringing the sitcom back for an eighth season. It didn't make the cut in May but received an 18-episode midseason order a month later.

While ratings on the broadcast network are down significantly from its heyday, "Jim" is a cash-making machine for the sister studio from its run in syndication.