ABC logo 2014A promising sign for two ABC pilots, drama How To Get Away With Murder and comedy Black-ish (aka untitled Anthony Anderson). I’ve learned that both have started making deals with writers. The deals are “if come,” contingent on a pickup by the network, but that still is a good indication that the network intends to pick them up, especially both being from sibling ABC Studios. Starting staff writer hires early gives projects a leg up to lock in sought after scribes. The move on both pilots is not surprising. Legal thriller How To Get Away with Murder, written by Peter Nowalk, produced by Shonda Rhimes and starring Viola Davis, has been a clear frontrunner on the drama side from the start. Black-ish, which counts Laurence Fishburne as executive producer and recurring guest star, is one of two Black family comedy pilots ordered by ABC this season, along with Kevin Hart’s Keep It Together from 20th TV (the first is single-camera, the second multi-camera). After a fast start for Keep It Together, the two pilots had been running neck-and-neck, with Keep It Together starting to lose steam in the past week, partly due to the rise of another ABC multi-camera family comedy project from 20th TV, Cristela. As usual, ABC is late to the pickup party but we could get some action tonight.

Related: 2014 ABC Pilots