It’s been eight years since Deadline launched its annual Overachievers Pilot Season/Upfronts lists to acknowledge the writers, producers and directors who excel during the broadcast development season, landing multiple pilots in January and multiple series in May. When we started the list back in 2010, there was no original programming on streaming platforms, and the broadcast pilot season was the biggest game in town, dwarfing cable development in volume. That has changed, with upstart SVOD services like Netflix launching more new scripted series a year than a broadcast network. Still, with more than 70 pilots ordered at the same time, broadcast pilot season remains a major and highly competitive event, with only a small portion of the hundreds of pitches bought by the networks going to production.
Here is Deadline’s annual Pilot Season honor roll of those who beat the odds, juggling multiple pilots:
Aaron Kaplan‘s Kapital Entertainment has five pilots — three multi-camera comedies at CBS, Corinne Kingsbury’s Fam; Jim Reynolds’ Here Comes the Neighborhood, and Ajay Sahgal’s Pandas in New York; as well as a Justin Noble single-camera comedy and D.J. Nash’s drama A Million Little Things at ABC. Kaplan exec produces all five pilots with Dana Honor. Additionally, Kapital has comedy pilot Widow at YouTube Red. The company has seven series on the air: ABC’s American Housewife, CBS’ Life In Pieces and 9JKL, HBO’s Divorce, Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet, Showtime’s The Chi and CBS All Access’ upcoming Tell Me a Story.
In her second development season as a producer, former CBS head of comedy Wendi Trilling, whose TrillTV has a pod deal with Kapital Entertainment, has four pilots as she is executive producing Kapital’s four comedies.
Greg Berlanti’s Warner Bros Television-based Berlanti Productions has four pilots — three dramas, God Friended Me and Red Line at CBS as well as Spencer at the CW, and Diablo Cody’s comedy Most Likely To at ABC. Berlanti Prods, which Berlanti runs with Sarah Schechter, has 11 series on the air: Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning and Riverdale at the CW, Blindspot on NBC, Deception on ABC, You on Lifetime, Sabrina the Teenage Witch on Netflix and Titans on the upcoming DC digital platform.
Management/production company 3 Arts Entertainment has seven pilots written/produced by clients: six comedies — untitled Bobby Bowman at ABC; untitled Austen Earl/Tim McAuliffe at CBS; Daddy Issues, from Erin Foster and Liz Meriwether; and Cool Kids, from Charlie Day and Paul Fruchbom at Fox; Abby’s, from Josh Malmuth and Mike Schur; an untitled comedy from Aseem Batra, Amy Poehler and Julie Anne Robinson at NBC; as well as an untitled drama at Fox from Ilene Chaiken and Melissa Scrivner Love.
The ABC Studios-based TV division of Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman Mandeville Films, run by Laurie Zaks, has landed three pilots — all at ABC: two dramas, The Fix, from Elizabeth Craft, Sarah Fain and Marcia Clark, and Jason Richman’s Safe Harbor; as well as Kristin Newman’s single-camera comedy Steps.
With her Fox comedy series New Girl coming to an end, 20th TV-based Liz Meriwether ramped up development this season with several high-profile sales that yielded three single-camera comedy pilot orders. She co-created/executive produces with New Girl alumna J.J. Philbin the ABC single-camera comedy Single Parents; co-wrote/exec produces with star Lake Bell Bless This Mess at Fox, which will be filmed off-cycle; and executive produces Erin Foster’s Fox comedy Daddy Issues.
Corinne Kingsbury (Back In the Game) stood out among creators with both of her scripts getting pilot green lights: multi-camera comedy Fam at CBS and drama In the Dark at the CW. Both are from CBS TV Studios, where she is under an overall deal.
Kingsbury was joined by another CBS Studios-based writer-producer, former The Good Wife executive producer Craig Turk, who also got two green lights. He had an early start in September with a straight-to-series order for Dick Wolf’s FBI drama, which Turk is writing and showrunning. Turk also co-wrote with Craig Sweeny (who will run it) drama The Code, which landed a pilot order at CBS.
It’s been a roller-coaster pilot season for Kenya Barris. He got a head start in December with a straight-to-series order at ABC for a multi-camera comedy he was writing with Julie Bean that had Alec Baldwin executive producing and potentially starring. Baldwin opted not to act, leading to the order being reduced to pilot and the pilot ultimately pushed to the offseason to allow more time to cast the lead with a big-name actor. In the meantime, the Barris-executive produced comedy Bright Futures, originally developed for ABC where it had gotten a pass, snagged a late pilot order at NBC. And Barris’ Black-ish spinoff series Grown-ish, which started as a pilot at ABC last pilot season, got off to a red-hot start on Freeform last month, earning a quick renewal.
After selling its first project to the CW last season (dramedy Life Sentence, which went to pilot and then series), Bill Lawrence’s Doozer Productions, which he runs with Jeff Ingold, has landed another hourlong pilot at the CW this year, Katie Lovejoy’s Dead Inside, along with another one-hour order, Dave Hemingson’s Whiskey Cavalier, starring Scott Foley, at ABC.
With Hazy Mills‘ long-running NBC drama series Grimm ending its run last season, Will & Grace star Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner’s Universal TV-based production company made a push in development that resulted in two pilot orders at NBC: for multi-camera comedies Like Family, from their frequent collaborator, Hot in Cleveland creator Suzanne Martin, and So Close from former Will & Grace executive Greg Malins who has been working on NBC’s successful revival series alongside Hayes.
Following a breakout first broadcast development season that yielded three pilots and two series — The Brave on NBC and Wisdom of the Crowd on CBS, Keshet Studios — the the L.A.-based outpost of Keshet International led by Peter Traugot and Rachel Kaplan, again snagged multiple drama pilot orders, Suspicion at NBC and Skinny Dip at the CW.
Jerry Bruckheimer TV is returning to pilot season with a new studio home, CBS TV Studios. Under its overall deal, the company landed a pilot order at CBS for the Eric Holder-inspired legal drama Main Justice. Outside of the pact, as it’s based on existing Bruckheimer IP, JBTV is producing the Gabrielle Union-starring Bad Boys offshoot pilot at NBC.
Also jumping back into broadcast pilot season is cable player Lionsgate TV, whose departing CMT drama Nashville started on ABC. The company is behind two drama reboots of well known titles, L.A. Confidential at CBS, penned by Jordan Harper, and Get Christie Love at ABC, from Power showrunner Courtney Kemp.
Speaking of comebacks, Miramax landed its first pilot order — for Gone Baby Gone, at Fox — since the company, originally founded by Harvey and Bob Weinstein, was sold by Disney in 2010.
Fryman leads the pack with four pilots, CBS’ multi-camera/hybrid History of Them, from Gloria Calderon Kellett; NBC’s Abby’s from writer Josh Malmuth and producer Mike Schur; and Friends-in-Law, from writer Brian Gallivan and producer Tom Werner; as well as ABC’s Most Likely To, from writer Diablo Cody and Berlanti Prods.
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