CBS has given series orders to three of its five drama pilots, Max Thieriot’s Fire Country (fka Cal Fire); East New York, headlined by Amanda Warren and Jimmy Smits; and So Help Me Todd (fka Untitled Mother & Son Legal Drama), starring Marcia Gay Harden and Skylar Astin. CBS is not commenting beyond that, but I hear all three series are for fall.
True Lies, ordered as an off-cycle pilot, also had been rumored for a series order, likely for midseason. I hear negotiations between CBS and 20th Television continue, and the project is still very much alive.
Not going forward are CBS’ remaining drama pilot, Early Edition, a reimagining of the Kyle Chandler series which had been cooling off, as well as all of CBS’ comedy pilots/presentations. The network this year opted for all presentation orders to comedy projects to its own studio, CBS Studios (The Hug Machine, Somber Companion, Unplanned In Akron), while the one comedy from an outside studio, Warner Bros. TV’s Rust Bell News, was a full pilot.
I hear CBS brass were very happy with their crop of drama pilots this season, considered to be one of the strongest in years, while the group of comedy pilots did not produce any standouts.
With CBS also canceling three current comedy series — United States of Al, B Positive and How We Roll — the network will have the fewest half-hour series on the schedule in awhile. CBS five years ago trimmed down its two-hour Monday comedy block to one hour, more recently consisting of The Neighborhood and Bob Hearts Abishola. CBS may now do the same with the Thursday two-hour block.
I hear So Help Me Todd, which has comedic overtones, may join the lineup behind the 8 PM comedy block, anchored by flagship Young Sheldon and possibly featuring breakout hit Ghosts.
So Help Me Todd has been one of the Cinderella stories of the 2022 broadcast season. Taking a big blow early on when the female lead was recast, with Marcia Gay Harden replacing Geena Davis opposite Skylar Astin, the pilot hung in there in the middle of the pack and had a big finish with strong testing results, I hear.
Here are details about CBS’ newly picked up scripted series:
EAST NEW YORK
EPs/W: William Finkelstein, Mike Flynn
EP/D: Michael M. Robin (Skyemac Productions)
EPs: Christine Holder, Mark Holder (Wonder Street)
Co-EP: Andrew Maher (Skyemac)
STUDIO: Warner Bros. Television
LOGLINE: Regina Haywood is the newly promoted deputy inspector of East New York, a working-class neighborhood at the edge of Brooklyn. She leads a diverse group of officers and detectives, some of whom are reluctant to deploy her creative methods of serving and protecting in the midst of social upheaval and the early seeds of gentrification.
CAST: Amanda Warren, Kevin Rankin, Jimmy Smits, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Richard Kind, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Lavel Schley and Olivia Luccardi
FIRE COUNTRY (formerly known as “Cal Fire”)
EPs/Teleplay Written by/Story Co-Written by: Tony Phelan & Joan Rater
EP/Story Co-Written by: Max Thieriot
EP/D: James Strong (pilot only)
EP: David Grae
EPs: Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman and KristieAnne Reed (Jerry Bruckheimer Television)
STUDIO: CBS Studios
LOGLINE: Seeking redemption and a shortened prison sentence, young convict Bode Donovan joins a firefighting program that returns him to his small Northern California hometown, where he and other inmates work alongside elite firefighters to extinguish massive blazes across the region. Inspired by Max Thieriot’s experiences growing up in northern California fire country.
CAST: Max Thieriot, Billy Burke, Kevin Alejandro, Diane Farr, Stephanie Arcila, Jordan Calloway, Jules Latimer
SO HELP ME TODD (formerly known as “Untitled Mother/Son Legal Drama”)
EP/Writer: Scott Prendergast
EPs/Showrunners: Liz Kruger, Craig Shapiro
EP/D: Amy York Rubin (pilot only)
EPs: Dr. Phil McGraw, Jay McGraw, Julia Eisenman (Stage 29 Productions)
STUDIO: CBS Studios
LOGLINE: Despite their opposing personalities, a talented but directionless P.I. who is the black sheep of his family begrudgingly agrees to work as the in-house investigator for his overbearing mother, a successful attorney reeling from the recent dissolution of her marriage.
CAST: Marcia Gay Harden, Skylar Astin, Madeline Wise, Tristen J. Winger, Inga Schlingmann and Rosa Arredondo