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Dancing with the Upfronts: Rounding Up the Buzz on Pilots at ABC, FOX, CBS, and CW

The networks aren't expected to announce their schedules until the week of May 18th, but ABC got a jump on the competition yesterday by announcing that they had given an early pickup to single-camera comedy Modern Family, from writer/executive producers Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, giving the series an initial thirteen-episode commitment.

Looking extremely likely for a series order at ABC is drama Flash Forward, especially given the fact that ABC has already launched an on-air viral campaign for the series with its "What did you see?" tagline. ABC executives are slated to screen the pilot and it's a given that Flash Forward will make it on the schedule. Other slots on the schedule could go to such drama projects as Happy Town, V, Limelight, Empire State, The Unknown, or Eastwick.

On the comedy front Awesome Hank (formerly known as Untitled Kelsey Grammer) is looking positive as are Ricky Blitt's Romantically Challenged (formerly known as Single With Baggage) and Bill Lawrence's comedy Cougar Town, though I've also heard some negative buzz forming about the latter. I'm hearing from several sources that comedies Pulling, Best Thing Ever, and The Law turned out decent but not spectacularly, although ABC's redo on The Middle screened very well. It seems like there's no hope for comedies No Heroics and Canned, however.

Meanwhile, several ABC pilots have gotten some title changes, with Lauren Graham's untitled comedy pilot reverting back to Let It Go (its original moniker), the untitled Tad Quill pilot now getting retitled as Best Thing Ever, the untitled Anita Renfroe pilot will now be called Bless This Mess, and Don't Try This at Home is now entitled Married Not Dead.

Meanwhile over at CBS, looking likely for a pickup is legal drama The Good Wife, starring Julianna Margulies, Josh Charles, Christine Baranski, Matt Czuchry, and Archie Panjabi, and the untitled NCIS spin-off is a lock, whereas the jury is deadlocked on the fate of medical dramas Three Rivers and Miami Trauma.

Hot comedies at the Eye are said to include Accidentally on Purpose, Happiness Isn't Everything, and Waiting to Die.

FOX is said to be extremely high on Simon West-directed action pilot Human Target, starring Mark Valley, Chi McBride, and Jackie Earle Haley, which is based on a DC Comics title. Meanwhile, medical drama Maggie Hill, starring Stuart Townsend, Christina Cole, Alfre Woodard, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Luke Mably, Denis O'Hare, and Anna Rose Hopkins, and supernatural drama Past Life (formerly known as The Reincarnationist) also said to be in contention.

On the comedy side, Sons of Tucson has emerged with the biggest buzz and Brothers and Cop House are said to be in contention as well. Reaction was mixed to Mitch Hurwitz and Christine Zander's US adaptation of British series Ab Fab, which here stars Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Johnston, Zosia Mamet, and Toni Trucks. I'm also hearing that Two Dollar Beer is stone cold and there's nothing to see on The Station, Walorsky, and Firsts, none of which have shot yet.

The revival of Melrose Place is considered a lock for the CW's fall schedule, so no surprise there that the netlet will go ahead with another update of a classic soap series.

Rather surprisingly, Privileged could get a second season renewal, thus tying up some of the available real estate at the CW. The Beautiful Life, from executive producer Ashton Kutcher, is looking strong, as are Kevin Williamson-adapted supernatural drama Vampire Diaries and Light Years. One fly in the ointment, however, is that Deadline Hollywood Daily's Nikki Finke is claiming that the untitled Gossip Girl spin-off, which would focus on a teenage Lily Rhodes (Brittany Snow) in the 1980s, is "now dead." Or is it? E! Online is reporting that the project is not dead. ("Nothing is dead," says E! Online's unnamed network source close to the network.)

The CW is out of the comedy game, so there were no comedy pilot orders this season and the CW is closing up shop with The Game and Everybody Hates Chris taking a bow this month.


vivian said…
Is it wrong that I really don't feel excited about any of these projects?
Anonymous said…
Nikki Finke should be fired. I swear she just makes stuff up and if she then happens to have guessed correctly says TOLDJA! Hate her.
annie_oakley said…
Okay, seriously, re: The CW pilots. I follow you and Nikki Finke and THR, and I don't understand why absolutely none of you have made any mention of Body Politic one way or the other. It's got a pretty prominent cast! What's the deal?
Jace Lacob said…

There's been NO buzz on Body Politic. As in, no one here in Hollywood is even mentioning it as a contender for CW's schedule, regardless of the cast. To me, that means that, barring some miracle, the project is icy cold.
annie_oakley said…
Has it screened yet?

Thanks for the info, regardless. I wish it were better news since this was the only CW show I was looking forward to (and one of the few pilots overall). I won't give up completely on it but the total silence over the project got to be so frustrating. I'd think that with its cast, NF or someone would at least be reporting that it seems to be dead or cold or whatever.
Jules said…

What about Inside the Box and the Dave Hemingson drama at ABC? They had a lot of buzz recently. Did they not turn out ok?

I'm also curious about the Forgotten (aka the Unknown); most people who reviewed it did not think much of the script.
Anonymous said…
BODY POLITic is amazing. i saw it today in my bosses office. Two words: PICK...UP.
Anita said…
I want to see Human Target, Eastwick and several others, but the only one I want to see on The CW is Body Politic and it's crazy that no one is mentioning it! Other than 90210 and Melrose Place, I read ALL the CW pilots and Body Politic had the best script, which seemed to be the consensus among all the bloggers and critics that read it. Everyone also seemed to agree that the casting of so many 'up and coming' actors like Minka Kelly, Jason Dohring and Gabrielle Union (I don't think Brian Austin Green counts as 'up and coming as he's already 'up' there) were great choices, so I don't understand why it said to be 'icy cold'?

The characters may all go to DC for different reasons, but at heart, it's still a sexy drama that includes the pretty people, scandal, romance and friendships that categorize the CW, so it fits will both with Melrose Place (as all the main characters on Body Politic live in the same brownstone) and with OTH.

Anonymous up there said he or she watched it in their bosses office and LOVED IT, so I'm completely boggled that people are talking about 'The Light Years' which I almost napped through, rather than Body Politic?

It's not even like there are no 'positive' reviews on it. There seem to be no negative reviews or mixed reviews either (other than the person above who loved it!), so I'm stumped as to why there seems to be *complete* silence?
Anonymous said…
Sometimes under the radar is exactly where you want to be. I'm told, from people that know, that that's the case here. Especially at CBS/CW. They actually put out misinformation just to throw off the blogs. The powers that be there would love to make Nikki Fink look like a fool. All I'm saying is, TBP has as good a chance, and anyone who says otherwise is either talking to the wrong people, or echoing the same bad reporting.
Anita said…
I would love for that to be the case, especially since every blogger or critic that has read Body Politic and knows the casting has raved about it!

While I understand the need for anonymity sometimes, needless to say, the news and 'hot' 'not', 'maybe', 'icy cold', 'hot' status circles for so many different pilots makes everything sound like what we (who live the in the corporate world) call a 'SWAG', ie, statistical wild assed guess.

I'm going to try not to lose hope for the CW as Body Politic is the only new show I'm really excited about them picking up, but I guess if they don't, then otherwise I'll be just be watching ABC, NBC and FOX (and the CW for Supernatural) and waiting for Jason Dohring's new role, Minka's and Leighton's movie and whatever else BAG and Gabrielle Union are going to be doing.
Cory said…
I think ABC has the best pilot slate this year by far. Flash Forward sounds excellent (and has officially been ordered!) - the premise sounds good, not to mention who's making it.

Also at ABC, I would check out all of their drama pilots mentioned here, particularly Happy Town, V, Eastwick, and The Unknown.

CBS...comedies sound better than the dramas, and I watch way more dramas than anything.

FOX...Human Target sounds OK, Past Life sounds intriguing, no way it would last but I'll definitely check it out if it makes the schedule.

The CW...90210 is bland, however I would check out Melrose Place since the original is more interesting than the original BH9, glad to hear Privileged might get another show...interested to see The Vampire Diaries, just hope it's much darker and interesting than Twilight...
Neena said…
Thanks for all the info on Body Politic...shame it isn't being picked up. I will definitely watch The Beautiful Life.

I really hope that the CW picks up GG's spin off.

Other than that nothing else interests me.

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