ABC today made decisions on its 2020 pilots, impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The decisions included passes on three projects, including two high-profile dramas, the thirtysomething sequel thirtysomething(else), featuring several original cast members; and Berlanti Prods.’ The Brides Dracula reimagining headlined by Gina Torres, from Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. The third is comedy Valley Trash starring Jason Lee and exec produced by Nahnatchka Khan. All three come from outside studios, MGM, Warner Bros. TV and Universal TV, respectively. Thirtysomething(else) and The Brides are expected to be shopped.
Broadcast networks trimming their pilot slates in the current environment is not surprising as the coronavirus-related Hollywood production upended the 2020 pilot season, leading to nets having to make difficult decisions. CBS also passed on two high-profile projects with A-list auspices involved, drama The Lincoln Lawyer and comedy Fun.
Still, thirtysomething(else) not going forward is a shocker given ABC’s passion for the project, whose pilot order was announced with fanfare by the network’s entertainment president Karey Burke — a huge thirtysomething fan — at TCA in January. While the order for the project, from the iconic original series’ creators Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, was for a pilot, at the time ABC allowed them to open a writers room.
It’s hard to pinpoint one reason for ABC’s decision not to proceed with the high-profile sequel. According to sources, it came down to available slots. ABC committed to two drama pilots to produce this year if safety conditions permit, and the the nods went to Rebel and Harlem’s Kitchen, which were considered stronger contenders. There have been concerns about the budget of thirtysomething(else), which is very expensive, with a large young ensemble cast and returning original cast members who command big paychecks. I hear the network also had been hoping for more star power within the new thirtysomething leads, and there were some logistical issues too, with the series slated to film in Canada, which requires quarantine.
When the project landed at ABC, ABC Studios partnered with MGM and became lead studio. I hear the Disney TV Studios division is remaining part of the show as it is being shopped.
Written by Herskovitz and Zwick and to be directed by Zwick, thirtysomething(else) follows an ensemble of new faces, the new generation of thirtysomethings. They are being joined by returning original cast members Ken Olin (Michael Steadman), Mel Harris (Hope Murdoch), Timothy Busfield (Elliot Weston) and Patty Wettig (Nancy Weston), reprising their characters in supporting roles. (Fellow thirtysomething alums Melanie Mayron and Polly Draper were to recur in the sequel.)
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, The Brides, a sexy contemporary reimagining of Dracula, is a family drama with a trio of powerful female leads at its heart. With strong horror elements, The Brides is a vampire soap about empowered, immortal women and the things they do to maintain wealth, prestige, legacy — and their nontraditional family.
Written by Niki Schwartz-Wright, Valley Trash centers on The Harmans, a scrappy, blue collar family living in the deep Valley who suddenly experience a major culture clash when their fourteen-year-old daughter, Abby, gets accepted to a prestigious LA private high school filled with students and parents who want nothing to do with her, her family or their 818 area code.
Of the other 2020 ABC pilots, the network said it intends to film five in 2020, dramas Rebel and Harlem’s Kitchen and comedies Bossy (fka Kids Matter Now), Home Economics and Work Wife, while rolling three into second cycle (off-cycle): comedy Adopted, whose cast is being extended, and dramas National Parks Service (fka ISB), from Kevin Costner, and Triage.