Trio of CBS pilots near pickup

'NCIS' spinoff, 'Rivers' and 'Wife' all from CBS TV Studios

Three CBS drama pilots moved closer to a series pickup Saturday when the network gave the projects a green light to start making offers to writers and directors.

The “NCIS” spinoff, “Three Rivers” and “The Good Wife” are all from sister studio CBS TV Studios.

Approval to start hiring as a precursor to a series order became very popular in the past few years as the networks used it to give newly picked series a head start.

However, this year NBC, Fox and ABC opted for straight orders, with only CBS and sister network CW starting off with an approval to begin staffing.

The CW took the step with its strongest pilots, dramas “Melrose Place” and “Vampire Diaries,” both considered a lock for the fall schedule.

At CBS, the “NCIS” spinoff starring LL Cool J and Chris O’Donnell, the Julianna Margulies-starring legal drama “Wife” and the Alex O’Loughlin-toplined medical drama “Rivers” had been early standouts.

Still, there has been intrigue surrounding CBS’ quest to launch a medical drama with “Three Rivers” competing for the slot with “Miami Trauma.”

While “Moonlight” star O’Loughlin is considered a major draw and is very well liked by CBS brass, “Trauma,” exec produced by CBS’ top producer Jerry Bruckheimer, had been heating up in the past few days.

As for the “NCIS” spinoff, with its strong brand and star-studded cast, the only intrigue surrounding it has been whether the network would pair it with the original series on Tuesday.