PRIMETIME PILOT PANIC: 3RD UPDATE – What's On The Hot List (& What's Not)

By Nikki Finke, Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: This is Round 3 of The Hot List for the 2010-2011 season. Pilot selection is entering its final phase. ABC and CBS kicked off their pilot screenings this Monday, while Fox, NBC, and the CW are starting their screenings Wednesday. This week, we’ve already had the first series order for a pilot, NBC’s UNDERCOVERS from J.J. Abrams, and the first pilot to start doing “if come” deals, the CW’s NIKITA. Also for NBC, word is a third Warner Bros TV pilot, David E. Kelley’s KINDREDS also has quietly started making “if come” deals with writers. NBC’s comedy pilot OUTSOURCED also is sending out feelers to start staffing as soon as Wednesday, with the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced drama CHASE close behind. Here is the latest pilot buzz:

Jeff Gaspin has seen some shows, and loves the Paul Reiser comedy. This network’s needs are to pick up 5 to 7 new dramas & 4-5 comedies.


UNDERCOVERS: First series order for a pilot this season. The adjective most often used to describe J.J. Abrams’ spy drama is “fantastic”.

CHASE: The Jerry Bruckheimer-produced drama is “very hot”. Looks like a lock and expected to start staffing shortly.

KINDREDS: David E. Kelley’s new drama has a lot of supporters who call the project a “vintage Kelley” legal show and hail the great lead performance by Kathy Bates. Not as universally liked as Undercovers and Chase and didn’t test as well as a whole as Bates did. Still considered a likely go based on her and Kelley. The show has quietly started making “if come” deals with writers.

ROCKFORD FILES: NBC has been very high on this for obvious reasons (well-known franchise … David Shore reinventing the old series… Steve Carell producing). But the network did not like the first cut, which was heavily reedited and there are some questions about Dermot Mulroney as the roguish private eye. Early buzz on the new cut is positive. Creator David Shore is looking for a showrunner.

LOVE BITES: Cindy Chupack’s anthology series starring Becki Newton and Jordana Spiro is still hot — “they like.” The show has been meeting with potential writers and there are several backup scripts by former Chupack Sex and the City pals already lined. But there are ramblings that Gaspin is not a big fan.

THE CAPE & THE EVENT: Somehow, the high-concept drama about a former cop-turned-superhero and the conspiracy thriller got lumped together from the get-go. Both have supporters, but the network may pick up only one of them. The Cape seems to have “a shot” but The Event has better buzz at the moment and is “in real consideration”. Some even say The Event a lock.

REX IS NOT YOUR LAWYER: This off-cycle pilot staged a comeback after being passed on for midseason consideration  but its reworked version tested well and prompted an order for two back-up scripts. Considered a “dark horse”. Has been meeting with writers.

ROUGH JUSTICE: John Eisendrath’s pilot is a legal drama starring Jimmy Smits from — uh-oh — Conan O’Brien’s company. Gulp. “A little chilly”. “Doesn’t look good.” But its chances improved a bit after Smits tested well.

LAW & ORDER LA: The Los Angeles spinoff is picked up for fall.


OUTSOURCED & PERFECT COUPLES & THIS LITTLE PIGGY: The frontrunners and sure bets. “NBC had good comedy development, and these are the 3 half-hours they’re high on.” “Most likely to go.” “I hear they love Outsourced” and it’s the “No. 1 hottest comedy”. Outsourced newly sending out feelers to start staffing and will probably land a series order soon. Word of caution on Piggy. While the ABC Studios-produced pilot had been very hot from early on, some say it may be cooling off a bit as NBC brass is not sure how the family comedy about adult siblings would fit with its brand of hip, workplace/relationship half-hours.

FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS: Looking for a showrunner for the potential series. The script was well-liked, and testing went well. Now it’s “cooling down” but “still in the mix”.

NEXT: Jeff Gaspin’s favorite so far. Paul Reiser’s semi-autobiographical comedy came out OK. Reiser has 7 backup scripts written — which is an advantage. “Looks good”. “Very very good chance”.

THE ADAM CAROLLA SHOW: “Pretty cold”. “Isn’t dead, but a dark horse.”

NATHAN VS. NURTURE: Doesn’t look very promising. “Good but not great”. “Not at the top of the list”.

THE STRIP: “That’s cold”.

THE PINK HOUSE: Not likely to go. “Cold”. “Won’t happen”.

BEACH LANE: After a major recasting, with Nick Thune replacing Patton Oswalt, the pilot came out OK and is described as “funny.” It has a good shot but there are “a lot of problems”. The network likes, even loves, Matthew Broderick “but they don’t like the pilot so much”. So NBC may try to develop another project for him.

Looking to pick up 3-4 new drama series and 2-4 new comedies.


The network is behind and execs including Bob Iger are seeing most of their pilots this week and discussing them next week.

187 DETROIT: “Hot” but hasn’t screened yet.

MATADORS: “Warm”. “They really like and has a decent shot” but not everyone at the network was wowed by the Romeo-and-Juliet legal drama.

BODY OF PROOF: “Hot” based on the script and star Dana Delany but the complete pilot has had mixed reaction.

NO ORDINARY FAMILY: Among most talked about because it’s Greg Berlanti. Hasn’t screened yet.

OFF THE MAP: In the running. “I’m told they like”.

THE WHOLE TRUTH: The legal procedural produced by Jerry Bruckheimer looks promising and Warner Bros TV is talking to Law & Order veteran Ed Zuckerman to come on board as showrunner. Still, some note that it “came in well but very down the middle”.

TRUE BLUE: “Cold”. But others say it’s “getting some heat”.

EDGAR FLOATS: “Problematic”. Starring Tom Cavanaugh, it’s “up and down and up and down”. But mostly down. Could go to cable, considered a better fit for USA or TNT.

BOSTON’S FINEST: Came in stronger than expected.

GENERATION Y: It’s been heating up and cooling off. Still a question mark.

CUTTHROAT: Some say it’s “cold” but others say “they like”.


MR. SUNSHINE: The Matthew Perry starrer “looks good” for a pickup. “Hot”.

UNTITLED SHANA GOLDBERG-MEEHAN: This comedy came out well and screened great. “They like”. A top contender for a series order.

WRIGHT VS. WRONG: The Debra Messing comedy had early buzz and still looks good going into the screenings.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE: The Leah Remini starrer is somewhere between “hot” and “like”. “Has a shot”.

WHO GETS THE PARENTS: Some people like, some don’t, this Jane Kaczmarek and Adam Arkin-starring comedy.

FRESHMAN: ABC didn’t like the first cut but still had hopes for the project, ordering major reshoots. Word is the Sarah Chalke comedy set in Washington DC and executive produced by Arianna Huffington still didn’t wow ’em at the network. “Question mark”.

SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT: Hired comedy veterans Jay Scherick and David Ronn as showrunners. There have been rewrites, and the pilot with Mary Steenbergen and Don Johnson is yet to be screened.

HAPPY ENDINGS: “Hot”. Hasn’t screened yet.

UNTITLED DANA GOULD: Not a perfect pilot but has potential. “They like”.

AWKWARD SITUATIONS FOR MEN: A maybe. “In the mix”. Star Danny Wallace is getting good buzz but the pilot as a whole not so much.

HOW TO BE A BETTER AMERICAN: Not looking good. “They don’t love”. “Dead”.

FUNNY IN FARSI: By most accounts not going but has some support at the network. “That’s dead”.

Kevin Reilly has been very hands on, but Peter Rice has not begun screening. FBC is looking to pick up 3 to 5 new drama series, depending on the future of Lie to Me and Human Target, and 3 comedies. The network’s main focus is on the comedy side as it doesn’t have a lot of drama holes and is looking to finally establish a live-action comedy block next season.


BREAKOUT KINGS: The pilot excelled in execution, with director Gavin Hood getting high marks, and testing overall very good. (For instance, the character played by Jimmi Simpson scored higher than any character ever tested at 20th TV, which produces the pilot.) “Looks really good” for this Prison Break without the prison.

TERRA NOVA: Given a 13-episode order with Brannon Braga on board as showrunner. A midseason show because of the elaborate visual effects involved in recreating the age of dinosaurs. (Steven Spielberg is personally recruiting some of the best names in the vfx industry for the series.)

MIDLAND: Testing was just OK for this Texas-set soap directed by Marc Webb. It’s still a favorite of both Fox and 20th TV. Not very commercial but well written and beautifully shot. Could be a critical darling and awards contender. “They love it, but is it a Fox show?”

RIDE-ALONG: Shawn Ryan’s cop drama is a contender, the pilot came in strong.

PLEADING GUILTY: Not getting a lot of buzz on this legal drama starring Jason Isaacs, but some say it’s heating up.


TRAFFIC LIGHT: Fox’s favorite half hour. It’s been a solid green light for this Israeli import throughout pilot season. One of 3 comedy frontrunners.

KEEP HOPE ALIVE: “Hot”. Greg Garcia’s new comedy is the 2nd frontrunner after the original pilot was partially recast and reshot.

WILDE KINGDOM: The 3rd of Fox’s top comedy pilots is this Mitch Hurwitz/Jim Vallely single-camera half hour starring Will Arnett and Keri Russell. Lionsgate TV, which stepped in after Sony TV pulled out at the pilot order stage, might end up with its first traditional series on a broadcast network. Chances “look really good”.

SECURITY: Good buzz for the workplace comedy starring Christian Slater

TAXMAN: Started heating up a bit after a so-so testing aside from strong marks for star Martin Short. “They like Marty but don’t like rest of it very much”. This is a pet project of Imagine principal Ron Howard who reportedly met with Fox brass about it recently.

MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED: “Highest testing pilot” but hasn’t generated a lot of buzz at the network.

STRANGE BREW: Some say Max Mutchnick’s and David Kohan’s pilot came in better than expected after being converted from multi- to single-camera. Others say it’s cold.



Les is seeing pilots now. But as usual CBS is on lockdown when it comes to info. Looking for 3-5 new drama series and 2-3 new comedies.


HAWAII-FIVE-O is a GO. The high-profile pilot has not been screened yet but the network execs who have seen it reportedly love it.

CRIMINAL MINDS SPINOFF: Once a lock. Now “lukewarm despite Forest Whitaker”. Still considered a solid contender, particularly  for midseason.

DEFENDERS: The legal drama starring Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell looks on track for a series order. “Getting very very warm”.

CHAOS: The CIA drama directed by Brett Ratner has buzz. “They like the chemistry, and it has a shot”.

UNTITLED MEDICAL PROJECT: Medicine and John Wells and Sissy Spacek can’t miss, right? But it’s only “in the mix”. With mixed buzz.

ATF: The procedural had some heat. “They liked but seems to be fading.”

QUINN TUPLETS: The adaptation of the Israeli series has supporters. The script was strong. Though the concept – about grownup quintuplets – remains somewhat risky. “Came in well, but probably won’t happen”.

REAGAN’S LAW: You’d think a Tom Selleck series on CBS would be a lock. It’s not. The multigenerational cop drama’s chances don’t look very good despite a solid script but hasn’t screened yet.

THE ODDS: “Bad odds” for this set-in-Vegas buddy cop show from producer Joel Silver. Mostly based on lack of inventory as CBS doesn’t have that many drama slots open. The pilot itself was solid and tested well, especially the second cut.


MIKE & MOLLY: The Chuck Lorre-produced pilot is pretty much on the air after a great taping and a greet screening. Some wonder why because “the premise is depressing – two fat people”. (Cruelty, thy name is pilot season…)

TEAM SPITZ: This Rob Riggle starrer looks very strong despite the last-minute recasting of Bob Odenkirk with Kurtwood Smith. Everybody loves Riggle in it.

TRUE LOVE: Network likes this ensemble relationship comedy. “Not hysterically funny”. But chances look very strong.

BLEEP MY DAD SAID: The Twitter-based sitcom starring William Shatner also looks very strong and had a great testing. “Good buzz”.

LIVIN’ ON A PRAYER: The comedy from How I Met Your Mother creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas went through rough patches in table read and filming, including last-minute rewrites. It hasn’t screened yet but CBS brass might opt to give the project more time for tweaking — the way they did with the original Big Bang Theory pilot.

HITCHED: Latest news is that it doesn’t look good and is “ice cold”.

OPEN BOOKS: Not much buzz on the pilot as it shot very late.

NIKITA: This Danny Cannon-directed reboot is making “if come” deals. The clear favorite.

HELLCATS: Ensemble cheerleading drama is hot.

HMS & BETWIXT: Also in the running.

NOMADS: Came in surprisingly strong, but considered a long shot. The  male-skewing globe-trotting adventure still could land a series order at the CW or somewhere else, possibly as an international co-production. (The pilot filmed in Thailand).

THE WYOMING PROJECT: Chances for this latest family drama project from Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino do not look good.

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