Back in May and June, the broadcast networks made decisions on their pilots that had been grounded by the coronavirus pandemic. Some projects went straight to series, some pilots were rolled, some were passed on, and the rest got commitments to film in 2020 when safety conditions allow. Because pilot cast options traditionally expire on June 30, the options on the actors from pilots earmarked for production were extended through September 30.
Three months later, only one pilot from that list has been shot, as far as I know: NBC’s comedy Night School. The networks were faced with the same dilemma and, overwhelmingly, asked the studios to extend the options on the pilots. I hear the length of the extensions vary project by project, with most actors secured through June 2021, and some pilots going for a hold through December 2020.
I hear the extensions also apply to NBC’s Night School as the network has not made a decision on the pilot, and its drama La Brea, which had been put on a path to a possible series order. Back in June, La Brea released its entire cast with the exception of two of the leads, Natalie Zea and Zyra Gorecki, who were extended through September 30. At the time, the project from Keshet Studios and Universal TV received a sizable additional script order. I hear that not all of the commissioned scripts have been delivered to the network, so there is no decision yet on a potential series order. In the meanwhile, Zea and Gorecki have been extended through December 31.
I hear the casts of the rest of the NBC 2020 pilots — Langdon, which has been gearing up for production in Toronto; Ordinary Joe with James Wolk; Grand Crew; and American Auto — all have been picked up.
ABC also has extended the options to its earmarked pilots Harlem’s Kitchen, headlined by Delroy Lindo; Bossy, (fka as Kids Matter Now); Topher Grace’s Home Economics; and Work Wife. Ditto for Fox with Pivoting, This Country, The Big Leap, The Cleaning Lady, Blood Relative, Untitled Film Re-Enactment Project and for CBS with Ways & Means starring Patrick Dempsey; Good Sam, untitled Kingsbury/Daley/Goldstein, The United States of Al, The Three of Us, Ghosts and The Big Bad Wolfes, headlined by Julie Bowen.
Chuck Lorre’s CBS comedy B Positive was the only 2020 broadcast pilot that was shot before production ground to a halt in mid-March. Now his other CBS comedy pilot, The United States of Al, headlined by Adhir Kalyan and Parker Young, is expected to be one of the first of the rest of the pilots to get made. It is slated to start production in about a week.
I hear ABC and CBS’ options are mostly through June 2021, while Fox’s are a mix of June 2021 and December 2020. I hear the vast majority of actors on broadcast pilots have accepted extensions, which would net many of them more than double their pilot fee when the holds are factored in. There are a couple of actors who have opted not to remain tied to their pilot because of scheduling issues and other opportunities, I hear, including Anders Holm and Travis Van Winkle.