What the Broadcast Networks Are Betting on This Development Season

NBC ABC CBS FOX Logo Split - P 2011

NBC ABC CBS FOX Logo Split - P 2011

THR spotlights the drama and comedy projects NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox may bank on.

This story first appeared in the Nov. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

"An invitation to an invitation to a preparty."

That's how ABC chief Paul Lee describes his network's fall script purchases, only a tiny percentage of which will end up on air. Still, every hit show starts with an exec saying yes to a pitch, and during the past few months, networks and studios have bought hundreds of promising projects, from original ideas like "mechanical-human dramas" to remakes of classics like The Munsters and The Rifleman.

THR parses the loglines and pilot commitments to analyze what the networks are buying.

NBC: With little clicking this season, NBC boss Bob Greenblatt has been spending big to not only revive but also put his mark on the net. He's lured boldfaced names from Roseanne Barr to Snoop Dogg.

  • Best Bet (drama): Blue Tilt has Ethan Hawke and Vincent D'Onofrio attached as fragile homicide detectives balancing work with family.
  • Best Bet (comedy): Sarah Silverman's vehicle centers on a woman readjusting to single life after a decadelong live-in relationship. Silverman will co-write alongsideDan Sterling and Jon Schroeder.

ABC: Despite strong freshman offerings, the network doled out more put pilot commitments than its rivals. Overall, ABC remains focused on female-centered soaps, with a few supernatural projects thrown in.

  • Best Bet (drama): Rand Ravich will write and EP a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced drama based on the livesof Navy SEALs and their families.
  • Best Bet (comedy): A multicam Jim Belushi vehicle about a co-dependent father and his teen daughter, from Murphy Brown creator Diane English.

CBS: The projects likely to fill CBS's few holes will look much like what's already on. Save for a handful of en vogue Westerns, CBS' lot is heavy on cops, docs and detectives.

  • Best Bet (drama): A drama from Shawn Ryan and Simon Mirren about a genetic scientist who discovers he has the psychopath gene and helps the FBI catch killers.
  • Best Bet (comedy): A multicamera workplace comedy project from Cougar Town's Bill Lawrence and Friends writer Greg Malins.

FOX: With The X Factor filling several slots on Fox's schedule next fall, the network again will have little need for new shows. Still, Fox is determined tolaunch more comedies in the vein of its freshman hit New Girl and a harder-edged procedural.

  • Best Bet (drama): Kevin Williamson's thriller about a diabolical serial killer who uses technology to create a cult of killers, and the FBI agent who finds himself in the middle of it.
  • Best Bet (comedy): Adam F. Goldberg's untitled 1980s family comedy, an autobiographical look at growing up with a highly screwed up but loving family.