We are starting to get more definitive signs of the broadcast pilots likely to go to series for next season. I hear NBC has given three drama pilots — The Player (formerly Endgame), Blindspot and Heartbreaker (formerly Heart Matters) — permission to begin staffing. While not a guarantee for a series order, such a nod from the networks is usually a promising indication of their intentions. While all pilots vet prospective writers and offer those they like “if come” deals, an official blessing from the network allows the studios to lock in sought-after writer-producers early. In addition to the three drama pilots, also currently staffing is NBC comedy Telenovela starring Eva Longoria, which has a straight-to-series order. I haven’t heard staffing buzz on Chicago Fire‘s planted spinoff Chicago Med but I hear that project is still on track for a midseason launch.
The Player aka Endgame and Blindspot have been standouts at NBC from the get-go. They got early attention by landing some of the most heavily pursued actors this pilot season and both hail from established producers. Las Vegas-set conspiracy thriller The Player, starring Philip Winchester as a security expert and co-starring Wesley Snipes, is from the companies behind NBC’s The Blacklist, Sony TV and Davis Entertainment. Fellow conspiracy/mystery drama, Blindspot, starring Jaimie Alexander and Sullivan Stapleton and set in New York, is from Greg Berlanti’s Berlanti Television and Warner Bros. TV. The writers are John Rogers and Martin Gero, respectively.
Heartbreaker, from NBC’s sibling Universal Television, writer Jill Gordon and exec producer Amy Brenneman, was a favorite script back in January. With Chicago Med also going strong, the vote of confidence to the soapy medical drama pilot starring Melissa George complicates things for sophomore medical drama series The Night Shift, which has been doing so-so behind The Voice on Mondays. The staffing nod to Heartbreaker also seems to give the drama an edge over another Uni TV drama pilot that has been garnering early buzz, fantasy/martial arts one-hour Warrior. It is too early to draw any definitive conclusions about Warrior‘s fate, though high concept dramas have always been big swings, and their outcome is hard to predict. Two years ago, another genre-themed NBC/Uni TV drama pilot, The Sixth Gun, got a lot of early attention but didn’t make the cut to series.