PRIMETIME PILOT PANIC: Network Screening Time

It’s showtime for broadcast pilots as screenings at the networks are kicking off. Today was Day 1 of screenings at ABC, Fox and the CW and Day 4 for CBS, which started on Friday. NBC starts its viewing tomorrow. There were a couple of standouts today. At ABC, it seems to be the Mark Gordon-produced procedural IDENTITY starring Angela Bassett as the head of a unit fighting identity-related crime, which exceeded expectations. Several other ABC pilots had solid showings: dramas CHARLIE’S ANGELS, which is considered a lock, POE, said to be a favorite of ABC chief Paul Lee (though some are concerned that it is essentially a 1840s Castle with a supernatural twist), and comedy SMOTHERED, while reaction to Chris Moynihan’s comedy MAN UP and the Count of Monte Cristo-flavored drama REVENGE were mixed.

It was a ho-hum first screening day at Fox, with comedy I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER doing OK, drama ALCATRAZ getting mixed reaction, mostly because of its sci-fi content, and comedy TAGGED not faring well in some rooms and getting mixed reviews in other. At the CW, the rise of HART OF DIXIE continued with a great screening as the small town medical drama starring Rachel Bilson looks like a sure thing for the fall schedule along with Kevin Williamson’s The Secret Circle, which is yet to be screened. Also seen today was the female buddy cop show COOPER & STONE, which got mixed reaction, mostly because of its straight procedural nature, a big departure from the CW brand of teen soaps.

As for CBS, of the pilots screened so far, the Robert De Niro ensemble cop drama ROOKIES and the Minnie Driver-starring PI show HAIL MARY reportedly did well, along with Jonah Nolan-JJ Abrams’ PERSON OF INTEREST, which is picking up steam despite playing a bit dark. Yet to be screened are the SUSANNAH GRANT medical drama pilot and two comedies that have been getting buzz lately, TWO BROKE GIRLS and HOW TO BE A GENTLEMAN. Overall, sources say CBS has not been too happy with its comedy pilots, with the high-profile HOME GAME, starring Rob Riggle doing so-so and the UNTITLED ROB SCHNEIDER pilot slipping after a mixed reaction at its screening. And, in a true dark horse fashion, the UNTITLED PETER KNIGHT office comedy pilot, directed by Neil Patrick Harris, has emerged from obscurity to a potential contender status.


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