We have the first formal step toward series pickups made by a broadcast network this season. As I reported in my second Pilot Buzz roundup, NBC has given two drama pilots — Rise, from former Friday Night Lights showrunner Jason Katims and Hamilton producer Jeffrey Seller; and For God and Country, from writer Dean Georgaris — permission to start making firm offers to writers. While not an outright pickup, such gesture by a network is almost always followed by a series greenlight. In the past two years, NBC did it with its drama pilots This Is Us, Blindspot, The Player and Heartbreaker, all of which later were ordered to series.
All pilots vet prospective writers and offer those they like “if come” deals contingent on a pickup, but a blessing by the network allows the studios to lock in sought-after writer-producers early with firm offers. Both Rise and For God and Country hail from Universal TV.
Rise (fka Drama High), starring How I Met Your Mother‘s Josh Radnor, has been a very early favorite at NBC, which aired the Broadway-themed drama Smash and launched an annual live musical franchise under chairman Bob Greenblatt, a long-time musical theater buff, producer and investor.
Written by Katims, Rise was inspired by the story of groundbreaking high school drama teacher Lou Volpe (Radnor) as chronicled in the book Drama High. The hourlong project revolves around an extraordinary working-class high school drama department and the incredible students who come alive under a passionate teacher and family man whose dedication to the program galvanizes the entire town.
The pilot stars Radnor, Rosie Perez and Marley Shelton, with a young cast featuring Moana star Auli’i Cravalho and Stranger Things standout Shannon Purser (aka Barb). Katims and Michelle Lee executive produce via True Jack Productions. Seller and Flody Suarez also executive produce via Seller Suarez Productions. Both companies are under overall deals at Uni TV.
Written by Georgaris, For God And Country is described as a heart-pounding look into the complex world of our bravest military heroes who make personal sacrifices while executing the most challenging and dangerous missions behind enemy lines. It is one of four military-themed drama pilots ordered by the broadcast networks this season.
For God and Country stars Mike Vogel and Anne Heche. Georgaris executive produces with Keshet’s Avi Nir, Peter Traugott and Rachel Kaplan via Keshet Studios’ first-look deal with NBC.