EXCLUSIVE: Yesterday was June 30, a key date in the broadcast development calendar when the options on all actors in this year’s crop of pilots expired unless they were extended. Cast options on several pilots were indeed picked up, keeping the projects in contention for midseason. The list includes the ABC comedies Wright vs. Wrong and Awkward Situations For Men, which are expected to shoot new pilots, the CBS comedy Team Spitz, as well as the CW drama HMS. A third ABC comedy project, How to be a Better American, also will shoot a new pilot but with an all-new cast as none of the actors from the original pilot have been extended. Most of the other pilots that picked up actors also are not keeping their entire casts. On Team Spitz, only star Rob Riggle was extended. Similarly, on Wright Vs. Wrong only star Debra Messing was picked up but co-star Cheryl Hines could potentially return under her new talent deal with ABC. On Awkward Situations, star/co-creator/executive producer Danny Wallace is staying put, with two of his co-stars, Laura Prepon and Tony Hale, in negotiations to join him.
The cast of HMS granted the CW and studio Warner Bros. TV seven-day extensions as the network is expected to make a pickup decision on the pilot next week. HMS is the only CW pilot from this year’s crop remaining in contention for midseason. (No Nomads, sorry!)
All those decisions went down to the wire, hours before the options were set to expire but nowhere was the situation more dramatic than on the CBS drama pilot Chaos where the options were allowed to lapse, essentially marking the end of the pilot’s chances for a midseason order. The only project that dealt with the issue early this year was the ABC/WBTV dramedy Edgar Floats, which received an order for 6 additional scripts during upfront week. Two weeks ago, the studio extended the option on co-star Robert Patrick, releasing everyone else, including star Tom Cavanagh.
The looming deadline on the pilot actors’ options also helped push through the finish line the series order deals to two pilots, Mad Love at CBS and Breakout Kings at A&E, all closing in the past few days, as well as Fox’s Monday order of two additional scripts to comedy Breaking In, leading to Sony TV’s decision to extend all actors in the pilot, including star Christian Slater and co-star Bret Harrison. Among studios, Sony has the most pilots that have gotten a new lease on life post-upfronts: Mad Love, Wright Vs. Wrong, Team Spitz and Breaking In. Awkward Situations, Edgar Floats and HMS hail from WBTV (HMS is a co-production with CBS Studios), Breakout Kings is from 20th Century Fox TV, now produced by its cable division Fox21, while How To Be a Better American is from ABC Studios.