CBS sprung into upfront action today, picking up four new dramas, Limitless, Rush Hour, Code Black and the Criminal Minds spinoff — now officially titled Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders — and two comedies, the single-camera Life In Pieces, starring James Brolin and Colin Hanks, and Angel From Hell, headlined by Jane Lynch and Maggie Lawson.
There was no Beverly Hills Cop redo with Rush Hour this year as some dreaded early on, referring to the CBS’ high-profile 2013 pilot based on the hit Eddie Murphy feature cop comedy franchise with an up-and-coming actor in the lead, which shockingly got a pass. Despite early bumps, including a very long casting process for the two young leads, and mixed early feedback, the Rush Hour pilot, written by Bill Lawrence & Blake McCormick and directed by Jon Turteltaub, steadily gained momentum to solidify its chances. The Rush Hour pickup means that both of Warner Bros. TV’s big titles at CBS went to series, with Supergirl getting an early nod on Wednesday. That brings the CBS new drama series orders to 5.
For a second year in a row, an action pilot produced by Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci sailed through testings and screenings to land on the CBS schedule. Last year, it was Scorpion, this time it was Limitless, based on the 2011 feature, whose star Bradley Cooper is executive producing the series.
Following the success of Scorpion, CBS clearly is moving in the direction of more popcorn, younger-skewing one-hours with the additions of Limitless, Rush Hour and Supergirl –– all three pre-bought titles, which would help in marketing.
A major recasting of the lead that involved last-minute rewriting of characters did not get in the way of medical drama Code Black, which replaced original lead Maggie Grace with co-star Marcia Gay Harden. Facing another medical drama pilot, LFE, Code Black, written by Michael Seitzman, snagged the series order. It is refreshing to see that CBS is not afraid to bet on older series leads in a youth-obsessed culture. Last May, CBS picked up new drama series NCIS: New Orleans toplined by Scott Bakula. This year the network has Code Black and the new Criminal Minds spinoff, which marks the return of CSI: NY star Gary Sinise.
This is the second series order in that many days for Limitless exec producer Marc Webb, who directed the pilot from a script by Craig Sweeney. He also received a surprise order at the CW for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a pilot he originally did for Showtime. Ditto for Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders exec producer Mark Gordon, who also is behind new ABC drama Quantico.
CBS’ bet on two single-camera comedies, Tad Quill’s Angel From Hell and Justin Adler’s Life In Pieces, a late January spec buy, is interesting. I hear the network brass also liked multi-camera sitcom The Half Of It, said to be fairly traditional, but couldn’t find a place for it on the schedule. There may be some play for it down the road.
Here are descriptions of CBS’ newly picked up series.
EP/ Writer: Michael Seitzman
EP: Marti Noxon
EP: Linda Goldstein-Knowlton
EP: Ryan McGarry
EP/Director: David Semel
Studio: ABC Studios
Logline: Medical drama set in the busiest and most notorious ER in the nation where the extraordinary staff struggle in the face of a broken system to protect their ideals and the patients who need them the most.
Marcia Gay Harden
Harry M. Ford
William Allen Young
CRIMINAL MINDS: Beyond Borders (Planted Spinoff)
*Filmed as a Criminal Minds episode on Feb. 8 as a planted spin off.
EP: Mark Gordon, Erica Messer, Nick Pepper
W: Executive Producer Erica Messer
Director: Glenn Kershaw
Logline: Focuses on a division of the FBI that helps American citizens who find themselves in danger abroad.
ABC Studios in association with CBS Television Studios and The Mark Gordon Company
* No mention by CBS of Anna Gunn who was in the planted spinoff episode but rumored to be leaving the project.
EP/ Writer: Craig Sweeny
EP/Director: Marc Webb
EP: Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci, Heather Kadin
EP: Bradley Cooper & Todd Phillips
EP: Ryan Kavanaugh, Tucker Tooley & Tom Forman
Studio: CBS Television Studios i.a.w. K/O Paper Products and Relativity Media
Logline: A drama based on the 2011 feature. The series follows Brian Finch as he discovers the power of the mysterious drug NZT, and is coerced into using his newfound drug-enhanced abilities to solve weekly cases for the FBI.
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
EP/ Writers: Bill Lawrence & Blake McCormick
EP: Arthur Sarkissian
EP: Brett Ratner
EP: Jeff Ingold
EP/Director: Jon Turteltaub
Studio: Warner Bros. Television
Based on the New Line Cinema feature film
Logline: A stoic, by-the-book Hong Kong police officer is assigned to a case in Los Angeles where he’s forced to work with a cocky African-American LAPD officer who has no interest in a partner.
ANGEL FROM HELL
Writer/EP: Tad Quill
EP/Director: Don Scardino
Studio: CBS Television Studios
Logline: When Amy enters Allison’s life and claims to be her guardian angel, they form an unlikely friendship and Allison can’t be sure if Amy is an angel or just nuts.
LIFE IN PIECES
EP/W: Justin Adler
EP/NW: Aaron Kaplan
EP/Director: Jason Winer
Studio: Kapital Entertainment i/a/w 20th Century Fox Television
Logline: A comedy about one family told through the separate stories of its different family members.
Zoe Lister Jones
Holly J. Barrett