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Previous, May 4: And so it begins.
Weeks before its upfront presentation to ad buyers, NBC handed out its first drama series pickups to its two biggest front-runners: Jason Katims‘ high school-set musical Rise (formerly Drama High) and military hour For God and Country.
Both dramas had been considered sure things in the past few weeks and had already begun staffing. (Rise is already fully staffed and opens its writers room in two weeks.)
Rise, from Parenthood and Friday Night Lights Kleenex king Katims, is based on the book Drama High by Michael Sokolove and life rights of Lou Volpe. When dedicated teacher and family man Lou Mazzuchelli (How I Met Your Mother’s Josh Radnor) sheds his own self-doubt and takes over the school’s lackluster theater department, he galvanizes not only the faculty and students, but the entire working-class town.
Katims penned the script and will executive produce alongside his Universal Television-based True Jack Productions banner topper Michelle Lee. Hamilton‘s Jeffrey Seller will also executive produce alongside Flody Suarez via their Seller Suarez Productions shingle.
The drama, which has drawn comparisons to early-season Glee, features a cast including Moana breakout Auli’i Cravalho, Rosie Perez, Auli’i Cravalho (Moana), Marley Shelton, Rarmian Newton (The Family), Amy Forsyth (The Path), Shannon Purser (Stranger Things), Damon Gillespie, Shirley Rumierk, Joe Tippett, Ted Sutherland, Taylor Richardson and Casey Johnson.
Meanwhile, For God and Country has already been a similar front-runner and started staffing in the past two weeks. It hails from the producers of Homeland and is described as a heart-pounding journey into the complex world of America’s elite undercover military heroes. Anne Heche and Mike Vogel (Under the Dome) star. Dean Georgaris penned the script and exec produces alongside Brad Anderson, who also directed the pilot. The drama hails from Avi Nir, Alon Shtruzman, Peter Traugott and Rachel Kaplan. The series is one of three pilots that Keshet Studios had in the works this season.
For God and Country was one of multiple military-themed scripted series in the works as broadcast, cable and streaming outlets look to better appeal to Middle America in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential victory.
Both dramas are produced in-house by Universal Television. They are NBC’s first drama series orders for the forthcoming season and join the straight-to-series Will & Grace revival on the network’s schedule.