It’s late April. Normally at this time TV business’ attention is focused almost squarely on the broadcast pilot season as it is heading into its final stages — network pilot screenings followed by new series pickups. But this is not a normal time. With the WGA-ATA standoff completely dominating the Hollywood conversation following the mass firing of agents by writers, it has been hard for anyone to focus on pilot season. Here is what I hear is hot at the networks. Keep in mind that the information is still incomplete as not all pilots have been delivered to the networks. We will have a fuller picture at the end of next week when most of the pilots will have screened.
PI drama Bad Alibi (fka Stumptown) starring Cobie Smulders and the untitled Hank Steinberg /50 Cent legal drama continue to be getting strong buzz, with ABC authorizing all of its drama pilots to make if-come staffing offers, I hear. Also still going strong are the soapy, John Mayer song-inspired Heart of Life, Heather Graham’s stalker drama The Hypnotist’s Love Story, and the new NYPD Blue. Because Bermuda triangle dramaTriangle started production late, I hear it will only be able to deliver a sizzle reel for consideration. While networks have made pickup decisions based on a reel in the post, including ABC on Still Star-Cross, I hear the network may hold off making a call on the project until the full pilot is delivered post-upfronts.
On the comedy side, the Young Rainbow Black-ish spinoff is considered a lock, with mom comedy Woman Up; Happy Accident; Untitled Hannah Simone, starring the New Girl alumna; and the multi-cultural, multi-camera comedy United We Fall all buzzed about and Untitled Jessica Gao and Untitled Leslie Odom Jr.; also in the conversation. There is talk about possibly reworking Nana with Katey Sagal, whom everyone loves in the role.
The Good Wife creators Robert and Michelle King, who have two premium series, The Good Fight on CBS All Access and the upcoming Your Honor on Showtime, are inching closer to a broadcast return, with their CBS drama pilot Evil generating a ton of buzz. Also considered a strong contender is the FBI: Most Wanted spinoff, with strong notices for star Julian McMahon. Several others, including legal drama All Rise (fka Courthouse), Under the Bridge and Surveillance, are considered possibilities.
Not a lot of movement on the comedy side at CBS. Carol’s Second Act, headlined by Patricia Heaton, is still going strong, along with Chuck Lorre’s Bob Heart Abishola. Also in the conversation are Broke in Reseda (fka Broke), starring former NCIS fan favorite Pauley Perrette and Jane the Virgin standout Jaime Camil, and Super Simple Love Story, with at least one late bloomer expected.
At For, getting a lot of buzz are John Slattery’s AI drama neXT, soapy family drama Filthy Rich, a potential companion to (soon-to-be picked up) Empire, and Prodigal Son, starring Tom Payne and Michael Sheen; with the Annie Weisman/Jason Katims sister drama and Deputy, praised for star Stephen Dorff’s acting and David Ayer’s directing, also in the mix.
On the comedy side; I hear the network continues to be hot on Geniuses, with Richard Lovely and Patty’s Auto also being talked about.
NBC’s church choir comedy Perfect Harmony, starring Bradley Whitford, continues to be a strong contender, along with the Kenan Thompson family comedy The Kenan Show. There are a couple of other contenders bubbling up, and I hear low-key presentation Village Gazette might surprise.
On the drama side, Council Of Dads continues to attracting a ton of buzz. Also getting attention is Lincoln, based on the Bone Collector novels, musical dramedy Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist and genre triller Emergence, with star Jimmy Smits keeping Bluff City Law in the conversation
The CW may have found its next breakout stars in Kennedy McMann and Ben J. Pierce. I hear pilots Nancy Drew, toplined by McMann, and Glamorous, headlined by Pierce, have both come in strong, with both young leads shining. Also enjoying frontrunner status are Batwoman, starring Ruby Rose, which had been staffing, and Riverdale spinoff Katy Keene starring Lucy Hale. Keeo in mind that the CW just renewed 14 (!) series for next season.