May is upon us, and with that the final stage of the primetime pilot panic leading into the broadcast networks’ May 16-19 upfront presentations in New York. Producers are currently rushing to finish the cuts or re-cuts of their pilots for the networks’ official screenings. CBS on Friday became the first network to begin viewing its pilots, with the others are slated to follow¬†this coming week. In compiling this 2nd hot list (1st is here), we surveyed a wide range of TV industry insiders, and I feel good about the sourcing on it. Still, as a former rocket scientist, I want to point out that it is not a scientific document as buzz is fickle. For instance, last year, CBS’ Blue Bloods flew completely under the radar until 24 hours before CBS’ upfront presentation. Now it’s looking good for a Season 2 renewal:

Last season, with no X Factor on the fall schedule, Fox picked up only two new dramas, Lone Star and The Chicago Code, in addition to Terra Nova, which was targeted for midseason. This year, the network has Terra Nova for fall after the series’ premiere was pushed. With the Tim Kring/Kiefer Sutherland drama pilot TOUCH all but assured a series order, the network may pick up as few as one and possibly two new dramas. After solid testing, the Ethan Hawke-starring and Antoine Fuqua-directed thriller EXIT STRATEGY has emerged as a frontrunner. The House-esque medical drama WEEKENDS AT BELLEVUE also has buzz, possibly as a companion (and eventual successor) to House. After an encouraging reaction from fans of Bones and promising preliminary research following last week’s airing of the Bones‘ spinoff episode, THE FINDER is also in contention.

Meanwhile, I hear Fox’s new crop of dramas may not include a sci-fi entry this year as both LOCKE & KEY and ALCATRAZ have cooled off, though the time travel-themed mystery Alcatraz still has loyal fans among the higher-ups. With the network recently renewing Fringe for a full season, it has secured the genre’s presence on the network for fall and has protected its good relationship with Fringe executive producer JJ Abrams, who also produces Alcatraz, in case the pilot doesn’t go.

The two 20th Century Fox TV-produced pilots, Liz Meriwether’s THE NEW GIRL directed by Jake Kasdan and starring Zooey Deschanel and the Shawn Levy-directed FAMILY ALBUM starring Mike O’Malley have the most buzz at the moment, with Warner Bros. TV’s multicamera comedy I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER starring Jaime Pressly also getting positive feedback. It’s been eerily quiet on the others, with TAGGED and OUTNUMBERED looking cold at the moment. (more…)

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