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Fox is sticking with its current pilot crop.
While the novel coronavirus pandemic completely derailed Pilot Season 2020 and, thus far, prompted ABC and NBC, to narrow their slates to a handful of frontrunners to film first, Fox is moving forward with all six of its pilot orders.
The network has extended the options on the casts and producers for comedies This Country (starring Seann William Scott) and Ginny Goodwin’s Pivoting as well as dramas The Cleaning Lady, The Big Leap with Scott Foley, Melissa Leo’s Blood Relative and the untitled Gooniesre-enactment. ABC and NBC, by comparison, will look to each film five of their 15 total orders, respectively, in the fall (or when it’s considered safe to begin work amid the global pandemic).
“Entering Fox Entertainment’s first development season as a new company, our methodology was to carefully curate our content more like a start-up; looking for new opportunities, new stories and new voices in ways perhaps others might not be able,” said Fox Entertainment president Michael Thorn. “As such, narrowing down these projects to only those that met our standards from the beginning, we still believe this crop of pilots — all from some of the finest writers, producers and talent in the business — really represents what Fox is trying to accomplish both in pilot season but, more importantly, for our year-round ambitions.”
In addition to its six pilots, Fox continues to develop scripts with an eye toward additional off-cycle pilot orders and straight-to-series pickups as drama Our Kind of People, from Star duo Karin Gist and Lee Daniels and an untitled country music drama from writer Melissa London Hilfers are both gaining steam.
All six pilots will be in contention for the 2020-21 broadcast season, with its traditional late September start in serious jeopardy amid rising coronavirus numbers across the country. Fox, though, is one of only two broadcast networks that already has a corona-proof fall schedule in mind. The network, which has a large slate of returning animated series, is holding back its new and returning live-action original scripted series for 2021 and launching with holdovers like Filthy Rich and Next (ordered a year ago) and “gently used” acquired programming like Spectrum’s L.A.’s Finest. Of its fall schedule, only The Masked Singer will need to be produced, with plans already taking shape for how to do so while adhering rapidly changing safety protocols.
Fox has already two new series for whatever the 2020-21 season looks like — Mayim Bialik comedy Call Me Kat and animated series Housebroken — to go alongside The Great North, which was ordered a year ago and scored an early season two renewal. The network is also returning all of its veteran series, save for Empire (which wrapped), and rookies 911: Lone Star, Prodigal Son and animated entries Bless the Harts and Duncanville. Of its 2019-20 freshman class, Fox canceled dramas Almost Family and Deputy, while axing comedy Outmatched.
“Fox established its brand — of programming and business — around the notion of boldness, nimble action and the ability to zig when others zag,” said Fox Entertainment CEO Charllie Collier. “I always admired Fox’s willingness to invest at times others did not see opportunity. We are not dropping pilots at this time because we entered this process deliberately, believed in these artists and partners before the COVID-19 crisis and we continue to believe in them today.”
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