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Pilot Inspektor: Gossip from the Tracking Boards

Well, it's crunch time here in Hollywood when the networks have to decide which pilots are going to get ordered before the May upfront presentations of their schedules to advertisers in New York. It's getting down to the wire and all over town producers are biting their nails as each waits to receive word on the fate of their latest TV opus.

Those in the know will drift onto one of the ubiquitous tracking boards--the online equivalent of a gossipy coffee klutch--to find out the no-holds barred low-down on their pilots. These boards can make or break a project and, in the case of a feature script, determine whether a writer is going to end up with a seven-figure purchase price or yet another pass.

Through a top-secret contact, I was able to gather some information--unsubstantiated but reliable--about many of the pilots in contention for the fall schedules of the major networks. It's far from a complete list, but below is a sample of what's being said about the current crop of drama pilots. Beware and take any rumors with a large--very large--grain of salt.


ABC's best bets for pilots receiving series orders include: Traveler, about two friends who are on the lam after being framed by a friend, which is said to be studio Warner Bros. TV's favorite pilot; drama Six Degrees; and mysteries Drift and Secrets of a Small Town, which tested extremely well.

Less of a lock for an order are the American adaptation of telenovela Ugly Betty and A House Divided, a drama about a potential second American civil war.

Almost certain to die in the pilot stage: psychological thriller 60 Minute Man, which was described as a disaster; the conspiracy-themed 20 Questions; and family drama Brothers & Sisters--reportedly series lead Calista Flockhart tested poorly.


FOX is said to be extremely high on three series, which rumor has it will all receive early series orders next week: hostage negotiation drama Primary (said to be "scorching hot"); serialized kidnapping drama Vanished (not to be confused with NBC's Kidnapped); and legal drama Damages.

FOX is said to like treasure hunter drama 13 Graves, but is less certain about high-powered legal drama American Crime and ensemble crime drama Southern Comfort, both of which were seen to be middle of the road for FOX.

Dead in the water are NASA space drama Beyond; Sean Bean-lead crime drama Faceless (shooting was said to be a fiasco and FOX was unhappy with the cut); and wedding photographer drama Wedding Album, which should be left at the altar.


Over at struggling NBC, the network is supposedly very happy with their series adaptation of football drama Friday Night Lights and they are very high on Heroes, which is probably the most likely to get a series order out of all of their pilots--and which may be NBC's answer to Lost. Less certain is psychological mystery Raines. And supernatural/political drama Haskett's Chance? Not a snowball's chance in hell to make it onto the schedule.

The CW

With the CW being formed out of the ashes of netlets the WB and UPN, there's a hell of a lot less room on their fall schedule than anywhere else. However, some series seem more likely to return than others. UPN comedies likely to return include All Of Us, Girlfriends, and Everybody Hates Chris. From the WB, things look rosy for dramas Gilmore Girls, Smallville, Supernatural, and of all things--7th Heaven?!?

The hot properties in development then include Flirt, Split Decision, and Mercy Creek (a.k.a. Aquaman). Apparently, the jury is still out on the Desperate Housewives-meets-The OC drama from Kevin Williamson.

So will Primary, Vanished, and Damages get early series pick-ups next week? Will out-there NBC "superhero" drama Heroes become TV's next big thing? Only time will tell...


Brock said…
I've heard through my sources that the script for the Aquaman pilot was amazing and extremely well written. It seems the only sure thing pickup for the fledging CW network.
Anonymous said…
As long as the CW doesn't bring back "One Tree Hill" I'll be happy. Hopefully, they'll hold some slots for more worthy shows, such as "Everyone Hates Chris" and "Veronica Mars." (I would also add "Gilmore Girls" but with showrunners Amy and Daniel leaving I don't know if it will be in top form.) Also, I heard the new Kevin Williamson pilot was pretty good. I wouldn't mind seeing another one of his shows on the air...
Anonymous said…
7th heaven?!?
Anonymous said…
I do not understand how they do not like Faceless. I heard it's amazing.
Anonymous said…
Just watched the pilot. It is really good. It left me wanting more...way more.
Anonymous said…
Just watched the pilot of Hidden Palms. It is so good. It left me wanting more....way more.

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