UPDATED WITH MORE OF YOUR SUGGESTIONS: Given how long the odds are for having a pilot picked up to series on a broadcast network, every year most people who have worked on pilots have a bad upfront. Some have a good upfront. And then, a selected few have a great upfront. Here are the overachievers this year:
James Burrows: He is the master of the multi-camera format. Only three new multi-camera series were picked up for fall, all directed by Burrows: Mike & Molly and $#! My Dad Says on CBS and Better Together on ABC.
Craig Silverstein: The writer-producer is behind two new series. He created/executive produced the CW’s Nikita, which he will also run, and he also co-wrote and is executive producing Fox’s Terra Nova.
The Russo Brothers: The duo also achieved a perfect record this pilot season: Both pilots they directed, ABC’s Happy Endings and Fox’s Running Wilde, went to series. Anthony and Joe Russo will be executive producing three series next season, Endings, Wilde and NBC’s Community whose pilot they also directed.
David Nutter, aka the Pilot Whisperer: He kept his unbelievable streak alive with NBC’s Chase, his 16th consecutive pilot to go to series.
Chuck Lorre, Shonda Rhimes and Carol Mendelsohn: With the pickups of Lorre’s Mike & Molly at CBS and Rhimes’ Off The Map at ABC, the two will have three series on the air next season, sharing honors with Seth MacFarlane, who also has three shows. But that has been topped by CSI maven Carol Mendelsohn who executive produces the newly picked up CBS drama The Defenders as well as the three CSI series. (There is still room to grow for all: Norman Lear had five shows on the air in 1977)
Matt Nix and Shawn Ryan: A strong upfront for the two writer-producers who already have cable series: USA’s Burn Notice and FX’s upcoming Terriers, respectively. Nix’s Fox dramedy The Good Guys, which was slated as a summer series, landed on the fall schedule. And Ryan’s pilot Ride-Along also wowed ’em at Fox to snag one of only two drama pilot-to-series pickups at the network.
J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci: The Fringe creators used a divide-and conquer strategy, returning to TV development with two separate pilots, Undercovers (Abrams) and Hawaii Five-O (Kurtzman and Orci). Both pilots went to series, keeping the trio’s perfect pilot-to-series record intact.
Scott Silveri and Shana Goldberg-Meehan: The married former Friends executive producers landed series orders for their pilots about couples: Goldberg-Meehan’s Better Together was picked up at ABC, Silveri and Jon Pollack’s Perfect Couples was ordered by NBC. And they accomplished that while preparing for the pending birth of their baby.
Beginner’s luck: Several newcomers to pilot season struck gold. Nick Wauters, whose prior TV writing experience included a total of 3 produced series episodes, is behind NBC’s highest-profile new drama series The Event after producer Steve Stark, in his first year as an independent producer, took an old spec script by Wauters to NBC. Young writer David Caspe had sold several feature comedy pitches but had zero TV experience. That changed this year when his Happy Endings became one of the best-liked comedy pilots and landed a series order by ABC. British writer Kelly Marcel was close to making a deal with a U.K broadcaster for a show set in pre-historic times to when producer Aaron Kaplan convinced her to bring the project to the US. He paired her with Silverstein to write together Terra Nova based on her idea. A few months after the launch of Working Title TV, the company landed a Thursday night series on NBC’s Love Bites.
Honorable mention for non-writing producers who landed multiple new series:
Jamie Tarses: She had three broadcast pilots, Mr. Sunshine and Happy Endings at ABC and Mad Love at CBS. Mr. Sunshine and Happy Endings were picked up to series, while Mad Love is still in serious consideration for midseason. (Tarses also recently landed a series order at TNT for Franklin & Bash, which was formally unveiled at the cable network’s upfront presentation this week.)
Bruckheimer TV: The company went 2-for-2 at the upfronts as both of its pilots, Chase at NBC and The Whole Truth received series orders. Three of the company’s existing series, Cold Case, Miami Medical and The Forgotten, were cancelled, but Bruckheimer TV still remains the top pod with six series on the air. McG’s Wonderland is second with four, Nikita, Chuck, Human Target and Supernatural.
DreamWorks TV: The company is behind two of the highest-profile series presented at the upfronts: Terra Nova on Fox and Fallen Skies on TNT.
Did I miss anyone? I’ll add the best suggestions to the list.
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