UPDATE 6:45 PM: No comedy pilots remain in contention at Fox as the network has passed on Rebounding, El Jefe, Prodigy Bully, Little Brother, Let It Go, Like Father and Living Loaded. Rebounding and El Jefe are being shopped to other networks. On the drama side, the only pilot still alive is the Cuba Gooding Jr legal drama Guilty, which was a strong contender for a series pickup. I hear the network brass decided to take a few weeks before making a decision on it, so we won’t hear right away.
UPDATE 5:30 PM: Here it is — the series pickup of the heavily favored Kevin Williamson drama pilot starring Kevin Bacon, now titled The Following (I hope Fox changes that). Because Bacon committed to only doing 15 episodes a season, the order for the Williamson project will likely be for midseason. The project, from Warner Bros TV, is a thriller about ex-FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Bacon) who leads the search to catch diabolical serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) who has created a cult of serial killers. Marcos Siega directed the pilot, which co-starred Shawn Ashmore, Natalie Zea, Valorie Curry, Jeananne Goossen, Nico Tortorella, Adan Canto, Billy Brown.
UPDATE 5:15 PM: Fox started its new drama series pickups with the Josh Berman/Robert Wright drama starring Jordana Spiro as a young female thoracic surgeon with Bridgeport roots who juggles two worlds as she juggles her career and her lifelong debt to the South Chicago mob. The series, now titled The Mob Doctor, is produced by Sony TV and executive produced by Berman, Wright and Michael Dinner who directed the pilot. The pickup of Mob Doctor assures a continuation of the medical drama genre on Fox whose veteran series House departs this month. I’m still waiting to get confirmation on the Kevin Williamson powerhouse drama pilot, with Guilty also in strong contention.
The Mindy Kaling single-camera comedy, now titled It’s Messy, was created by and stars The Office standout as a Young Bridget-Jones type doctor trying to navigate both her personal and professional lives. Fox picked up the project in a turnaround when NBC passed on the script, and the pilot has been a favorite of Fox’s brass from the script stage. It is earmarked as a potential companion for the network’s freshman breakout New Girl. Along with Kaling, Serving as an executive producer on the pilot was her Office co-star BJ Novak. The pickup continues Universal TV’s presence on Fox — the studio also produces the network’s departing drama House. However, House was sold by Universal before its merger with NBC, so this marks the first series order for the recently-revamped Universal TV at Fox or any non-NBC network.
Dana Fox’s Ben Fox Is My Manny, now called Ben & Kate, hails from 20th TV and Chernin Entertainment. The pilot, directed by Jake Kasdan, centers on a free spirited guy (Nat Faxon) who, under the guise of being his niece’s nanny, moves in with his type “A,” tightly wound sister (Dakota Johnson) and in the process will help her re-enter the world. Ben & Kate started off slow, taking a while to cast the female lead and then recasting her after the table read. (Abby Elliott was originally set for the part). As a result, the pilot was late, but ever since it was delivered to Fox, it became an instant contender.
The Goodwin Games, from How I Met Your Mother‘s Carter Bays, Craig Thomas and Chris Harris, is also from 20th TV. It is a high-concept family comedy about a father who leaves his fortune to his 3 children only if they agree to his terms. The script clinched a pilot order when Becki Newton committed to star. Her appeal, along with that of Scott Foley, who plays her brother, were key in Fox’s decision to pickup the pilot, directed/exec produced by Peyton Reed, to series.