Related: PILOT SEASON: The Overachievers 2012
Aaron Kaplan. Proving that his fast start as a producer was not just beginner’s luck, the former WMA agent has become a force to be reckoned with during pilot season. This year he landed five pilot orders, one more than last year and a new personal best. All five are comedies — ABC’s Pulling, Bad Management and the untitled Cullen brothers project, CBS’ Friends With Better Lives and NBC’s The Gates — as are Kaplan’s on-air series, ABC’s The Neighbors and Nick at Nite’s Wendell & Vinnie, as well as another Nick pilot, Instant Mom. On the drama side, he has pilots Terminals, which is nearing a series pickup at ABC Family, and HR at Lifetime, which is casting. In a world of vertical integration, Kaplan operates as an independent one-man shop.
Another independent, management/production company 3 Arts, has four pilots, also all comedies: NBC’s untitled Greg Daniels/Robert Padnick, untitled Owen Ellickson & Craig Robinson and untitled John Mulaney/Lorne Michaels projects, as well as Fox’s untitled Dan Goor/Mike Schur project.
Writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky are having a banner year. The Office alums and writers of the 2011 feature Bad Teacher are behind three broadcast comedy pilots — ABC’s Pulling, which they wrote and executive produce, as well as ABC’s Trophy Wife and CBS’ Bad Teacher adaptation, which they executive produce. Additionally, their HBO comedy pilot with Stephen Merchant, Hello Ladies, was picked up to series.
Peter Tolan. The Rescue Me co-creator/showrunner also has three pilots — he co-wrote/executive produces CBS’ Jim Gaffigan comedy; supervises/executive produces Fox’s drama Rake starring Greg Kinnear, and executive produces NBC comedy Brenda Forever.
Three other showrunners are on double pilot duty. Greg Garcia is the sole creator/executive producer of two comedy pilots at CBS, single-camera Super Clyde and an untitled multi-camera project. That is in addition to him running his current series, Fox’s Raising Hope. Julie Plec is writing/executive producing the planted Vampire Diaries spinoff The Originals, executive producing the CW pilot The Tomorrow People in addition to running TVD. Rules Of Engagement‘s Mike Sikowitz is the writer/executive producer of NBC’s single-camera comedy pilot Welcome To The Family and co-writer/executive producer of ABC’s multi-camera Divorce: A Love Story. Ditto for David Zabel, writer/exec producer on ABC drama pilot Betrayal and co-writer/exec producer on another hourlong ABC pilot, Lucky 7. Additionally, in his first pilot season, feature writer Chris Morgan also landed two pilots — he is writing/executive producing Fox drama Gang Related and executive producing ABC’s Big Thunder.
Two of two busiest men in showbuziness, Chuck Lorre and Seth MacFarlane, are back on pilot duty. Lorre is the co-writer/executive producer of CBS’ multi-camera comedy Mom, which he is shepherding along with his his three CBS series, The Big Bang Theory, Two And A Half Men and Mike & Molly. MacFarlane executive produces Fox’s multi-camera comedy project Dads, which received a straight-to-series six-epsiode order, while also juggling his two Fox animated series in production, Family Guy and American Dad, as well as hosting the Oscars and working on feature projects.
James Burrows is once again the undisputed multi-camera directing king of pilot season. He is helming four pilots, NBC’s Sean Hayes comedy and CBS’ Friends With Better Lives and untitled Greg Garcia and Tad Quill comedies. Three other directors are helming two pilots each. On the multi-camera side, Pam Fryman is directing CBS’ Mom and ABC’s Divorce: A Love Story in addition to directing/exec producing How I Met Your Mother, and Mark Cendrowski is helming the pilot episode of Fox’s series Dads and NBC’s comedy pilot Joe, Joe & Jane, while single-camera director Jason Winer is directing Fox’s The Gabriels and CBS’ The Crazy Ones. Fred Savage is directing one of each, multi-camera Jacked Up and single-camera The McCarthys.
Steven Spielberg’s Amblin TV has two pilots at ABC, drama Lucky 7 and comedy Middle Age Rage, in addition to the summer CBS series Under The Dome. Brillstein Entertainment is behind ABC drama pilot The Returned and NBC’s Wonderland and is also attached to CBS’ untitled Jim Gaffigan comedy pilot.
Will Gluck’s Olive Bridge landed the biggest order this season, NBC’s 22-episode pickup of the new Michael J Fox comedy. The company also produces the CBS comedy pilot The McCarthys.
The production companies of two top comedy creators, Greg Daniels (The Office) and Bill Lawrence (Scrubs) are behind two pilots each. Daniels’ Deedle Dee Prods. has the untitled Robert Padnick and the untitled Owen Ellickson/Craig Robinson comedies at NBC; Lawrence’s Doozer has two pilots — Fox’s I Suck At Girls and NBC’s Undateable. Other pods with two pilots each this season include Jerry Bruckheimer TV, which has CBS drama pilot Hostages in addition to the off-cycle NBC drama pilot The Secret Lives Of Husbands And Wives and John Davis’ Davis Entertainment (NBC’s The Blacklist and Ironside). Additionally, Alon Aranya (Red Widow) executive produces two drama pilots, CBS’ Hostages and ABC’s Betrayal, the latter through Scripted World, his company with Rob Golenberg.
Like Sharon Horgan, two other actors are doing double or triple duty this pilot season. Jim Gaffigan co-wrote, exec produces and toplines an untitled CBS comedy project, while Ben & Kate‘s Echo Kellum is co-starring in two pilots — the NBC Sean Hayes one as a regular and the network’s The Gates as a guest star.