PILOTS 2017: More Very Early Buzz

In just three weeks, the networks will be done with the bulk of their new series pickups and will be in the thick of finalizing fall schedules — unless there is a writers strike, in which case that will be top of mind for everyone with upfronts taking a back seat. Like with the first Pilot Buzz, my information is still very sketchy because pilots are just starting to come in at the networks as the majority are in post-production or studio testings. So don’t take everything you read as gospel.

There might be a new hot surgeon on ABC next season, and it won’t be a new love interest for Grey’s Anatomy‘s Meredith. The network’s medical pilot The Good Doctor, from House creator David Shore, has been heating up, with Bates Motel‘s Freddie Highmore being buzzed about for his starring role as a young surgeon with Savant syndrome. The latest Shondaland entry, the Paul William Davies legal drama, also is going strong. The illusionist FBI drama, Deception, from Chris Fedak and Berlanti Prods., continues to get attention. It is one of several pilots in serious contention as part of ABC’s push this season to launch lighter hourlong series, along with the Marc Cherry small-town project starring Reba McEntire and possibly the Kenya Barris-produced CIA show Unit Zero starring Toni Collette. Las Reinas has rebounded. Downgraded from a pilot to a presentation, I hear it encountered issues during production but the cut has exceeded expectations. It is unclear whether that will be enough to push the project over the threshold, but it is a positive development. ABC already has one new drama series picked up for next fall, Marvel’s Inhumans.

ABC’s Single-Dad comedy pilot is one of those under-the-radar projects that often never get traction — it was a late pilot order, multi-camera, from up-and-coming creators, and it didn’t even have a name. It also cast in the lead Rob Riggle, who has come close a few times but is yet to do a pilot that goes to series. But the ABC Studios project, which I hear enlisted the help of studio-based Larry Wilmore, has been gaining momentum, making for a competitive race with the network’s high-profile other multi-camera comedy pilot Household Name, starring comedy legend Carol Burnett. It would be meaningful for Riggle if this is the one to go the distance as the pilot is a family affair, with Riggle’s on-screen daughter played by his real-life one.

On the single-camera side, another veteran comedy actor who struck out a number of times before striking gold with Two and a Half Men, Jon Cryer, is getting a lot of buzz for Losing It, which is heating up, with Zach Braff’s Start Up, The Goldbergs spinoff, military family comedy Charlie Foxtrot and the Diablo Cody-Berlanti Prods. family comedy Raised by Wolves all in contention. Barris-Vijal Patel’s early front-runner Libby & Malcolm, starring Felicity Huffman and Courtney B. Vance, is said to be looking better after reshoots, though the current environment of political over-saturation in a country that is deeply divided might be a little too close to home for the show’s premise, about married polar-opposite political pundits.

At NBC, Rise (aka Drama High), the drama pilot from Jason Katims and Hamilton‘s Jeffrey Seller about a high school drama department, continues to be a favorite, along with the military-themed For God and Country. I hear both pilots have been given permission to make firm staffing offers, which is a good omen for series pickups. I also hear some buzz about VR drama Reverie, with the soapy, female-centric Good Girls as an outlier.

On the comedy side, the Tina Fey-produced Busy Philipps-Casey Wilson starrer The Sackett Sisters is getting attention, alongside the Charlie Grandy-Mindy Kaling pilot Champions and the Seth Meyers-produced untitled high school comedy — all from Universal TV — with the ABC Studios-produced What About Barb? also in the running.


The Craig Robinson-Adam Scott paranormal comedy Ghosted is still going strong, with LA->Vegas also well received, along with the Eva Longoria starrer Type-A. We will know more next week on Linda From HR and Liz Meriwether’s Thin Ice, but both are considered possibilities.

On the drama side, Matt Nix’s Marvel pilot, directed by Bryan Singer, is a sure bet, with medical drama The Resident also in the running. Actually, none of the network’s four produced hourlong pilots is out of contention, with the University project and Behind Enemy Lines both considered possibilities.

At CBS, the Mark Feuerstein-Dana Klein multi-camera family comedy 9J, 9K & 9L continues to be going strong, aiming to join the straight-to-series Big Bang Theory prequel Young Sheldon. Beyond that, things are murky, with a couple of possibilities including Me, Myself & I and Living Biblically.

On the hourlong side, cop drama Instinct starring Alan Cumming is being talked about along with the Justin Lin-directed actioner S.W.A.T., starring Shemar Moore; Perfect Citizen, toplined by Noah Wyle; and, to some extent, the SEAL project starring David Boreanaz and Jeremy Piven’s Wisdom of the Crowd. The timely journalism drama The Get, starring Amy Brenneman, has drawn positive early response and has a rare-for-CBS female lead, though its subject matter might not be an easy sell.

The Black Lightning presentation has yet to be completed, but the Greg Berlanti-produced DC superhero drama, written by Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, still is considered one of the CW’s strongest prospects for next season, along with the Dynasty reboot, from Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage. They are being joined by the Bill Lawrence-produced hourlong comedy Life Sentence with Lucy Hale and Dylan Walsh, which is heating up.

The second Berlanti-produced CW drama pilot, Searchers, is still in the running though the ambitious-in-scope action-adventure project has hit some speed bumps, undergoing reshoots in South Africa. Insatiable, a quirky, comedic hour starring Debby Ryan and Chris Gorham, is a dark horse. It’s been well received though considered a major departure for the network as it’s different from anything else. Sometimes, that’s a good thing.

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  1. Fred Bateson Apr 21, 2017 6:56 pm

    Would it be crazy if we did 14 comedies on ABC, expand Fridays to 4 comedies and open up a multi-cam Norman Lear like comedy block to bring Saturdays back from the dead?

    • on Apr 22, 2017 12:47 pm

      saturday comedies would be shorter order because of the fact that ABC has college football during the fall and would also need to be cheap since they wouldn’t get as good of ratings

  2. JtotheKon Apr 21, 2017 7:19 pm

    Klein + Feuerstein = zzzzzzzzzzzz

    • on Apr 23, 2017 1:36 pm

      He’s a great actor. She’s a shell of a human being and writing is not her forte. That being said, the premise and script were snooze fests. But maybe it cut together well.

    • on Apr 24, 2017 11:31 am

      I was at the taping of Dana and Mark’s sitcom pilot and it’s pretty damn good!

      • Joe Shineson Apr 25, 2017 1:44 pm

        I just want to know how that’s possible. Script was totally boring.

        • Pam Maloneon Apr 27, 2017 12:21 pm

          Maybe the actors elevated the material, maybe it was subsequently punched up and rewritten after you read it, maybe you are a poor judge of quality, maybe the commenter is lying. Those are four ways “how it is possible.” Hope that helps! Have a pleasant Thursday, happy person!

  3. Jameson Apr 21, 2017 7:20 pm

    Rise looks phenomenal.

  4. Hollywood (and the world) Owes Me A Livingon Apr 21, 2017 7:30 pm

    I can write circles around all these people. And they know it.

    • Ceeon Apr 23, 2017 10:58 pm


    • Foxon Apr 24, 2017 11:40 pm

      Why do you write this repeatedly throughout Deadline?

  5. Rorschachon Apr 21, 2017 7:32 pm

    So basically, everything is in contention. Unless its already been picked up to series, like INHUMANS.

    By the way it would be nice if Channing and ABC didn’t dumb Inhumans down like every other superhero show on the CW, FOX, or ABC (I’m looking at you, Agents of SHIELD and Sharon Carter). Maybe send the whole writing staff to watch Logan. There’s a really smart mythology there if they can capture the intelligence and spirit of the graphic novels by Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee. That’s the most compelling the Inhumans have ever been portrayed. It’s Shakespeare on Acid with superheroes.

    • Vinnieon Apr 22, 2017 3:42 am

      Yeah, Logan in which Charles convinces Logan to spend the night at an innocent family’s home resulting in the obvious slaughter. Yep, that was intelligent writing. Real people on the run would be that selfish and stupid.

      Also, I think you meant Peggy Carter and not Sharon Carter.

      • Rorschachon Apr 22, 2017 7:47 am

        Re: your Logan comment…I’ll go with 92% positive reviews and massive box office, champ… versus productions like Arrow or Gotham or Agents of Shield.

        What other film would have the cojones to slaughter a family like that onscreen? Care to pick out a scene you found substandard in Chris Nolan’s the Dark Knight? What meets your incredibly high personal bar?

        I blocked out Peggy Carter and its cheesy production values. Sorry I conflated her with her daughter/granddaughter/relative Sharon depending on the era of comics you read. Care to comment on the weirdness of Cap being romantically involved with both?

        Bottom line Superheroes can be done for grownups but I’ve yet to see any evidence on TV as of yet. Daredevil Season 1 comes closest.

        • Joshon Apr 24, 2017 8:06 am

          You should try watching Arrow then from the start, especially the second season. When Oliver is forced to watch his mother be killed in front of him. It was great TV. I will admit that a lot of the superhero shows aren’t the best, but don’t lump them in all together.

    • nerdrageon Apr 22, 2017 10:02 am

      The Inhumans (properly done) would be weird and off-putting for a general audience. The backstory is bizarre, the characters live up to their name. Not to mention expensive! It’s GotG without the fun. I’d love to see it too, but I’m afraid we’ll get something a lot cheaper looking and more relatable. Oh well, as long as Karnak is a scene-stealing lovable bastard, I’m in.

  6. JDon Apr 21, 2017 7:42 pm

    The Get was one of the worst hourlongs i’ve read this season. Horrible title, horrible execution of the concept, and not a great concept to begin with. But Amy Brenneman is always great so maybe she makes the pilot come alive. Not to mention all the shit talking people like to do, including creating whole twitter accounts to bemoan how some male writers describe women in their character intros… whoa nelly apparently the female writer of this script missed all those complaints because she has some doozies in here that would get a man labeled a misogynist if he wrote them.

    • on Apr 21, 2017 10:00 pm

      How do you find these scripts

      • on Apr 22, 2017 6:39 am

        same question…

        • on Apr 23, 2017 1:31 pm

          Er, um, your agent sends them to u?

      • SGon Apr 23, 2017 11:12 am

        In the mailroom.

      • Dont stop believing just hold onto that feelingon Apr 25, 2017 8:08 am

        Just think really hard & snap your fingers. And voila, they will be in you hands.

  7. Abbyon Apr 21, 2017 7:49 pm

    Oh please pickup Rise. It seems great!

  8. Chrison Apr 21, 2017 8:44 pm

    I hope that if anc picks the carol Burnett shoe that they don’t put in the Friday graveyard. It deserves better

  9. foxeron Apr 21, 2017 9:12 pm

    Behind Enemy Lines and the University project were good reads. I didn’t like The Resident, and the lead actor in that one can’t act. (He ruined last season of Halt and Catch Fire.)

    Haven’t read The Passage, but like the premise.

  10. Kennyon Apr 21, 2017 9:19 pm

    Why don`t ABC bring back TGIF comedies back, ABC has done well with family friendly shows and i think they would do really well putting 20/20 at 10p and Shark Tank on Sundays at 10p

  11. stanon Apr 21, 2017 10:44 pm

    this is always SUCH BULLSHIT. you get your information from agents, all of whom have their own specific agendas… and people who are “cheering the dailies.” what actually is picked up will be different. including a lot of projects not even mentioned here.

    • nerdrageon Apr 22, 2017 10:04 am

      Yeah it does seem like every year, plenty of projects come in “out of the blue” at seemingly the last minute without any advance buzz, while strong contenders mysteriously vanish. May as well throw darts at a board.

  12. on Apr 21, 2017 10:49 pm

    What about Spaced Out at NBC I love script for pilot

  13. einat162on Apr 21, 2017 10:57 pm

    Other than ABC’s “House” reboot (let’s face it) nothing in this lists interests me.

  14. WGA memberon Apr 21, 2017 11:19 pm

    LOSING IT is terrible.

    I don’t believe any supposed “buzz” about it.

  15. Jaysoson Apr 22, 2017 12:51 am

    Good Doctor and Libby&Malcolm are ABC’s smartest scripts – should be a no-brainer. Doesn’t matter if it’s the best or worst time for a political show, it’s well-written AND has a good cast.
    Idk what the tone of Losing It is, but I’d love to see a darkly comic dramedy. StartUp with Braff & Imperioli is promising.

    Those NBC and FOX half-hours will live or die with their cast performances.

  16. einat162on Apr 22, 2017 3:58 am

    Other than ABC’s House remake (it is what it is), the other shows on this lists does not interest me me.

  17. on Apr 22, 2017 4:59 am

    I hope The CW pick up Insatiable!

  18. Best Hollywood Assistant Ever!on Apr 22, 2017 6:02 am

    I think CW or someone should make a Dirty Dancing series. Set in Havana or some other place with a tropical beachy setting like Hawaii/Tahiti. Or Greece as it could help those lovely peoples economy out a little. But anyways, it would be so cute & fun & fantastic! Ahhh :D

    (You’re so welcome for the idea everybody.)

    • Buyeron Apr 22, 2017 8:41 am

      What do you mean? What is your way in? Is it an American moving to one of these places? Are all the other characters locals or are they also ex pats? Is it set in present day or in the 60s like the movie? Need a little more please.

      • SGon Apr 23, 2017 10:59 am

        Sure, you’re a “buyer” LOL.

        • Buyeron Apr 24, 2017 10:53 am

          Would love to work with you, SG. I’m typically at the Starbuck’s on La Cienega and Wilshire if you’re interested in pitching something to me.

          • Foxon Apr 24, 2017 11:38 pm

            Ari Emanuel is that you? The ‘need a little more please’ sounds exactly like you hahaha…

    • Here's looking at you, kidon Apr 24, 2017 3:11 am

      Love this person’s enthusiasm. Made my morning.

    • Best Hollywood Assistant Ever!on Apr 24, 2017 8:34 am

      Ohhh, there are so many ways to make this show sooo great! :D I’m sure you could come up with some great ideas on your own. I think you’re just overthinking it. But if you really are a producer & actually are serious about those questions, just email me at pbnikiforov89 @gmail .com. And the cutest ideas ever will be on your way lol! :) 🙌💃🏼🏝️💘

    • Anonymouson Apr 24, 2017 8:01 pm

      Whoever currently retains the rights to the franchise should genuinely think about doing this as I’d certainly watch this!

  19. Katon Apr 22, 2017 8:01 am

    So this Marvel/Fox show is X-Men-related or not? Either way, can’t wait to see it.

    • A.H.on Apr 22, 2017 5:58 pm

      ABC has a straight-out Marvel pilot (Inhumans), which has been ordered to series already. It’s based on one of their comic properties not seen on screen before, about a bunch of godly characters on another planet.

      FOX has an X-Men pilot (Gifted), to be tied in to the films if it goes to series, about a family with kids who are mutants so they have to go on the run and meet up with an underground mutant network.

      • Katon Apr 23, 2017 2:33 am

        Thanks for the info. Fingers crossed for Gifted! ;)

  20. nerdrageon Apr 22, 2017 10:22 am

    Is Mission Control dead then?

  21. on Apr 22, 2017 12:49 pm

    No mention of Superior Donuts. This doesn’t bode well for its chances.

    • on Apr 22, 2017 2:28 pm

      it’s already renewed…

    • Hirschanatoron Apr 22, 2017 4:03 pm

      Fingers crossed for Superior!

  22. Anonymouson Apr 24, 2017 6:08 am

    Greg Berlanti is just everywhere! Keep up the good work buddy !!

    • The Other Gregon Apr 24, 2017 9:18 pm


  23. Donna Richardon Apr 24, 2017 6:24 am

    All networks sound like total snooze fests, and NO MORE superhero shows please! I am a huge comic book fan and reader but the market is just over saturated at this point.

    • Anonon Apr 24, 2017 7:36 pm

      It’s a solid block of shit. Let’s face it, network TV is done.

  24. on Apr 24, 2017 11:38 am

    Every year the broadcast network development is homogenized uninspired crap. It’s the nature of the medium. I’m truly amazed that this process still goes on. I have more than enough good quality series that I can’t even consume all of between HBO, Showtime, Starz, FX, AMC, IFC, Netflix, Amazon, etc. That’s what inspired television has become! Not Shonda Rhimes or more hacky multi-cam sitcoms…

  25. 01on Apr 25, 2017 7:16 am

    What happened to the Jessica Alba show for ABC? That script was extremely impressive.

    • anonymouson Apr 25, 2017 7:08 pm

      Agreed, now that one was phenomenal!

    • Katzon Apr 26, 2017 12:05 am

      What script it this that yo both are talking about? How do I not know about this??