Fox has opted not to make drama pilot Wild Blue, which was ordered and partially cast last season before being pushed off-cycle. The project, an upstairs/downstairs look at the working men and women aboard an aircraft carrier, had a long development history. Originally titled The Bridge, the drama from writer Taylor Elmore (Justified), producer Mark Johnson and Sony Pictures TV was bought by Fox during the 2011-12 season. It didn’t go to pilot, but the network kept it in contention, rolling in to the following cycle. Justified executive producers Graham Yost and Michael Dinner were brought onboard in fall 2012 to help with a rewrite and Dinner to direct, giving the project additional clout.
Fox had been very interested in getting a naval drama on the air — last season it bought a second script with a similar setting, from House executive producers Russel Friend & Garrett Lerner and 20th Century Fox TV, which also took place on a naval aircraft carrier and had an upstairs/downstairs dynamic. In the end, one of the two, The Bridge, renamed Wild Blue, was picked up to pilot in January. The pilot cast most of its roles, bringing in Mykelti Williamson, Josh Salatin, Will Rothhaar, Alano Miller and Gina Rodriguez. But the older lead remained uncast, with Tim McGraw, who was the top choice, engaging in conversations but ultimately walking away.
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Meanwhile, the producers had been looking to film the pilot on a naval carrier, but the one they were eyeing was not going to be available until after pilot season. So last March, the pilot was pushed. At the end of June, the options on the actors who had been cast were extended through the end of the year. But as the time passed, the issue with naval access persisted, Fox couldn’t find another actor for the vacant lead to get excited about, and a ton of new drama development came through the door in one of Fox’s most aggressive buying seasons in years, pushing Wild Blue to the back burner. Facing the expiration of the cast options next week, the network has made the official decision not to go forward with the project, a young ensemble about the working men and women on board an aircraft carrier equipped with a 500-foot landing strip, a nuclear reactor and 6,000 souls on board.