Tales From Pilot Season


HE GOT THE ROLE BY A HAIR: How committed was Ryan Eggold to landing a part in the CW’s supernatural love-triangle pilot Heavenly? After he nailed the audition, the network balked because the 90210 actor’s look was too similar to that of already-cast lead Ben Aldridge. So, at the urging of his Untitled manager and Gersh agent, Eggold hit the hair salon for highlights — twice. After sending photos of his new look and testing side by side with Aldridge, Eggold got the part.

Shonda South of the Border
With three ABC series on the air (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Off the Map), Shonda Rhimes already has one of the busiest schedules in TV. So when the network asked her for another pilot script, she promptly left town. “I told my team, ‘I’m going to Mexico — don’t tell anybody,’ ” Rhimes recalls. “The week before Thanksgiving last fall, I hopped on a plane, checked into this hotel, and I basically said, ‘Nobody bother me for four days.’ ” The result was Damage Control, based on the career of Judy Smith, a crisis-management consultant and former White House press aide.

Not a Bad Reference
Actress Carla Gallo can thank comedy kingpin Judd Apatow for helping her land a gig this season. When Apatow, who cast Gallo in supporting roles ranging from Undeclared to The 40-Year-Old Virgin to Superbad, heard she was up for a part in the CW’s Danni Lowinski pilot, he fired off an e-mail to network chief Dawn Ostroff raving about the actress. Clearly convinced, Ostroff signed Gallo to play Kaz, the title character’s best friend.

The Angels’ Mystery Machine
Longtime Charlie’s Angels superfan Jack Condon would appreciate a call back from ABC or Sony TV. The Guinness world-record holder for largest Angels memorabilia collection owns the 1978 Chevrolet van used to promote the original series. So when the reboot pilot was announced, Condon, who authored The Charlie’s Angels Casebook, reached out to producers to see whether they’d be interested in procuring his prized vehicle. “If Sony or ABC want to make an offer for the van — the only one in the world — I’m up for hearing about it,” he says. But the price might be high, considering Condon once turned down a $100,000 offer for the van, which he keeps in storage in L.A.

Harden Heading West
Before signing on for her first sitcom role, in the ABC pilot Smothered, Marcia Gay Harden faced every New York actor’s eternal debate: Was she ready to live in Los Angeles full time? “L.A. offers a great lifestyle for a mother,” says the mom of three kids under 12, who plays a grandmother in the pilot. Plus, a multicam sitcom means she wouldn’t have to travel for work. “I think it’s a great opportunity.”

Pan Am Bags Soaring
When ABC announced its airline-soap pilot Pan Am, nobody was happier than the owners of Pan Am Brands, the company that licensed the former airline’s name to Sony TV. “There’s definitely been an increase in interest in the brand with all the buzz around the project,” Pan Am Brands’ Stacy Beck says. Replicas of the blue-and-white bags Pan Am distributed to passengers in the 1950s and ’60s remain a best-seller, as does the Orion Bag — “The one the Beatles were carrying when they landed in America,” Beck notes — which range from $50-$400.

RETURNING HEROES: A proven TV star certainly boosts pickup chances

  • Don Johnson (A Mann’s World)
  • Tim Allen (Untitled Jack Burditt)
  • Christina Applegate (Alpha Mom)
  • Hank Azaria (Free Agents)
  • Maria Bello (Prime Suspect)
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar (Ringer)
  • Amanda Peet (Bent)
  • Kiefer Sutherland (Touch)
  • Wilmer Valderrama (REM)

SERIES TV VIRGINS: First time could be the charm for these film stars

  • Zooey Deschanel (The New Girl)
  • James Caviezel (Person of Interest)
  • Michael Clarke Duncan (The Finder)
  • Cary Elwes (Wonder Woman)
  • Ethan Hawke (Exit Strategy)
  • Anjelica Huston (Smash)
  • Christina Ricci (Pan Am)
  • Kerry Washington (Damage Control)
  • Patrick Wilson (Untitled Susannah Grant)