CBS has been the most proactive among the Big 3 networks in making decisions on pilots coming off a 2020 pilot season decimated by the coronavirus pandemic. It has made calls on five projects, picking up three to series, The Equalizer reboot starring Queen Latifah, Silence of the Lambs sequel Clarice starring Rebecca Breeds; and the Chuck Lorre-Marco Pennette multi-camera comedy B Positive, headlined by Thomas Middleditch and Annaleigh Ashford; while passing on two, drama The Lincoln Lawyer, which had a series production commitment, and comedy Fun.
B Positive was the only completed broadcast pilot this season, as the coronavirus-related Hollywood production shutdown hit just as most pilots were getting ready to start filming.
Of the rest of CBS’ ordered-but-not-filmed pilots, which I hear are in the process of extending options on their actors, “some of them are going to be produced, some of it is just, it’s an unprecedented time,” CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl told Deadline. “We are operating without perfect knowledge right now, so the more that’s revealed to us in terms of when shows could go back into production, the better we can assess where we are, which pilots will go forward and which we are going to have to make some other decisions on. That includes rolling into next season.”
The 2020-21 CBS schedule unveiled today only features two new shows, B Positive and The Equalizer, with Clarice held for midseason and the network indicating that it would be joined by other new series in 2021. This season, CBS launched eight freshman scripted series.
Kahl addressed the decision not to proceed with The Lincoln Lawyer, from The Practice creator David E. Kelley, A+E Studios and CBS TV Studios, and Fun, starring Becki Newton and Michael Urie, from 2 Broke Girls co-creator/executive producer Michael Patrick King, Tracy Poust & Jon Kinnally and Warner Bros. TV.
“It’s a tough time, unprecedented time, and we just had to make some very hard decisions,” Kahl said. “In both cases, there were very talented producers but our upfront process was moving forward, and in some cases, time was of the essence, and we had to make some tough calls.”
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