PRIMETIME PILOT PANIC: UPDATE – NBC Picks Up 'The Cape' & 'Garza' & 'Friends With Benefits'; Passes On 'Piggy'

nbc-logo-rgb-pos2.thumbnailUPDATE 11:30 AM: The Cape also has been picked up. The network also confirms the pickup of David E. Kelley’s Kindreds, now called Harry’s Law.

UPDATE 11:15 AM: NBC also officially picked up the Jimmy Smits-starring legal drama Garza, now renamed Outlaw. (NBC To Pick Up Conan’s Pilot ‘Garza’ To Series)

Comedy This Little Piggy is dead. Paul Reiser’s Next not looking good.

PREVIOUS 11:00 AM: NBC has added comedy Friends With Benefits to its roster of new comedy series for next season. It joins fellow new half-hours Perfect Couples and Outsourced on the comedy side.

The single-camera Friends With Benefits landed at NBC in a quick turnaround after ABC, where it was originally set, passed on it in February. The project, a romance through the eyes of five friends, is from 20th Century Fox TV and Imagine TV. It was  written by (500) Days of Summer scribes Scott Neustadtler and Michael Weber, with David Dobkin directing the pilot. There will be casting changes on the project.

NBC has stuck to two genres in its comedy series pickups: workplace comedy (Outsourced), which would fit nicely into its workplace-themed Thursday comedy block, and relationship comedy (Friends With Benefits, Perfect Couples), which may air as a block. NBC has been mulling opening a second comedy block on Wednesday.

Here is NBC’s release, which also officially announces the renewal of Chuck.

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – May 14, 2010 – NBC has issued pickups for four more new scripted series with dramas “The Cape,” “Outlaw,” “Harry’s Law” and the comedy “Friends With Benefits” – while renewing the action-comedy series “Chuck” for a fourth season — all for the 2010-11 season.

“The addition of these four inventive series to our new scripted lineup demonstrates a wide spectrum of creative stories,” said Angela Bromstad, President, Primetime Entertainment, NBC and Universal Media Studios. “We are featuring popular, top-flight stars along with a strong pedigree of successful writer-producers.  Likewise, ‘Chuck’ has proven its enduring appeal and we love the new creative direction that Josh and Chris have taken the show.”

The four new series join previously announced “LOLA’ (“Law & Order: Los Angeles”), “Perfect Couples,” “Chase,” “Undercovers,” “The Event,” “Love Bites” and “Outsourced” as the new scripted series that NBC has revealed for its new season.

“The Cape” is a one-hour drama series starring David Lyons  as Vince Faraday, an honest cop on a corrupt police force, who finds himself framed for a series of murders and presumed dead.  He is forced into hiding, leaving behind his wife, Dana (Jennifer Ferrin) and son, Trip (Ryan Wynott).  Fueled by a desire to reunite with his family and to battle the criminal forces that have overtaken Palm City, Faraday becomes “The Cape” his son’s favorite comic book superhero — and takes the law into his own hands.  Rounding out the cast are James Frain as billionaire Peter Fleming – The Cape’s nemesis – who moonlights as the twisted killer: Chess; Keith David as Max Malini, the ringleader of a circus gang of bank robbers who mentors Vince Faraday and trains him to be The Cape; Summer Glau as Orwell, an investigative blogger who wages war on crime and corruption in Palm City; and Dorian Missick  as Marty Voyt, a former police detective and friend to Faraday. “The Cape” is a Universal Media Studios and BermanBraun production from executive producer/creator Thomas Wheeler, executive producer/director Simon West, the executive producing team of Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun and executive producer Gene Stein.

Starring Emmy Award winner Jimmy Smits, “Outlaw” is a new drama from executive producer John Eisendrath. Cyrus Garza (Smits) is a Supreme Court justice who abruptly quits the high-level position. A playboy and a gambler, Garza had always adhered to a strict interpretation of the law until he realized the system he believed in was flawed.  Now that he’s quit the bench and returned to private practice, he’s determined to represent “the little guy” and use his inside knowledge of the justice system to take on today’s biggest legal cases — and he’s making plenty of powerful people unhappy along the way.  Jesse Bradford, Carly Pope, Ellen Woglom and David Ramsey also star. “Outlaw” is a Universal Media Studios production along with Conaco productions. Eisendrath is executive producer along with Terry George, Conan O’Brien, Jeff Ross and David Kissinger.  “Outlaw” is written by Eisendrath and directed by George.

Emmy Award-winning creator David E. Kelley brings his unique storytelling to “Harry’s Law,” a series about fate and the people it brings together, starring Academy Award winner Kathy Bates. Harriet (Bates), Matthew (Ben Chaplin) and Malcolm (Aml Ameen) couldn’t be any more different.  Harriet is a curmudgeonly ex-patent lawyer who, having just been fired from her cushy job, is completely disillusioned with her success and looking for a fresh start.  Her world unexpectedly collides with Malcolm’s — a young man trying to figure out life.  When he finds out Harriet is a lawyer, he begs her to represent him in an upcoming criminal case.  Matthew, a dreamer at heart and also recently fired from his job as a high school teacher, is introduced to Harriet through Malcolm, a previous student of his.  When these three cross paths, they realize they’re all looking for a fresh start.  Now, the most unlikely of people are starting a law practice in the most unlikely of places — a rundown shoe store.  “Harry’s Law” also stars Brittany Snow as Harriet’s assistant, Jenna Backstrom and Beatrice Rosen as Eve, a high school French teacher. “Harry’s Law” is produced by Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with David E. Kelley Productions and Warner Bros. Television.  David E. Kelley  and Bill D’Elia serve as executive producers. D’Elia also serves as director.

From Oscar and Emmy winner Brian Grazer, “Friends With Benefits” is a half-hour comedy revolving around a group of twenty-something singles as they navigate the difficult, and often confusing, world of dating.  Ben Weymouth (Ryan Hansen) is on the hunt for the perfect woman who meets his unique set of standards, while his best friend, Sara Maxwell (Danneel Harris), is just looking for a man to settle down with and raise a family.  Ben and Sara have fallen into the habit of turning to each other for moral and physical support as they wait for Mr. and Ms. Right to arrive.  Their friend Aaron (Fran Kranz), a romantic at heart, doesn’t approve of Ben and Sara’s complicated friendship, but he, along with womanizer Hoon (Ian Reed Kesler) and straight shooter Riley (Jessica Lucas), are all distracted with their own dating trials and tribulations. David Nevins joins Grazer as executive producer for Imagine Television.  Also serving as executive producers are David Dobkin (“Wedding Crashers”), who directs the pilot, writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, and Jeff Kleeman.  “Friends With Benefits” is a production of 20thCentury Fox Television, Imagine Television and Big Kid Pictures.

Now in its third season that concludes with a two-hour season finale on Monday, May 24 (8-10 p.m. ET), “Chuck” is averaging a 2.4 rating, 6 share in adults 18-49 and 6.6 million viewers overall.  “Chuck’s” ratings increase significantly when all time-shifted viewing is added to its results, growing this season by an average of 22 percent in its 18-49 rating and more than 1.1 million persons in total viewers when going from its “live plus same day” to its “live plus seven day” results from Nielsen Media Research.

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