EXCLUSIVE: I’ve heard a lot of chatter over the past 24 hours that CBS has picked up pilot Chaos to series. The truth is, the network indeed has given a midseason order to the CIA drama but that doesn’t mean the show will make it to the air. Because I hear CBS has handed out a partial 8-episode order instead of the standard 13-episode to producer 20th TV and the studio has not accepted it. Talks between the two sides continue but it is not clear whether they would be able to come to an agreement. Meanwhile, I also hear that, in ordering Chaos, CBS has passed on its other midseason contender, the John Wells-produced medical drama pilot Gimme Shelter. However, given the fluid situation with Chaos, the network may revisit the pilot from Warner Bros. TV. I hear Gimme Shelter creator Hannah Shakespeare has already signed on to join another WBTV project, new ABC drama series The Whole Truth, though she remains in first position on Gimme Shelter.
For networks, the issue often comes down to limited shelf space in midseason that triggers partial orders. But, with the steep production costs for drama series these days, it’s crucial for studios deficit financing new drama series to secure international sales, and they can only do that with a full 13-episode order. That’s why the size of midseason orders is often a bone a contention between non-vertically integrated networks and studios. Last year, both Warner Bros. TV and 20th TV got into a standoff with ABC over their drama pilots V and The Deep End, respectively. Neither studio agreed to the network’s offer for a partial midseason order and ABC eventually upped both pickups to 13 episodes (it later reduced the order for The Deep End to 6)
Chaos, written by Tom Spezialy and directed by Brett Ratner, revolves around rogue CIA operatives who combat bureaucratic gridlock, rampant incompetence and political infighting. The cast includes Freddy Rodriguez, Eric Close, James Murray, Tim Blake Nelson and Carmen Ejogo.
On the comedy side at CBS, Mad Love is considered the front-runner for a midseason order, with Team Spitz having a minimal chance too and Livin’ On a Prayer not officially dead yet but pretty much over.