Primetime Pilot Panic: New CBS Hot List; Dramas 'The Good Wife' & 'NCIS' Spinoff Get OK; Jenna & Jason Sitcoms Look Good

This updates my previous Primetime Pilot Panic: The Hot List

OVERVIEW: Usually CBS is known as the “cone of silence” during pilot season leading to the upfronts. (“If anyone even talks about what they like, they get killed,” notes one of my tipsters.) But not this year. My sources are picking CBS for the hottest development this season. Even those who think Nina Tassler has rested on her reputation are saying this is the best CBS drama development that she’s had in 5 years. When I last updated my reporting, Les Moonves had screened everything. Meanwhile, he like all the corporate network bosses are doing their best to whack down license fees before the network renews shows. (On Cold Case and Without A Trace, Les is in mortal combat with his old employer Warner Bros).


UNTITLED NCIS SPIN-OFF (CBS-Paramount) is locked and on the fall schedule just as my sources expected. UPDATE: I’m told that Shane Brennan’s reps negotiated a killer deal so that now he will exec produce and show run both NCIS and the spin-off, making him one of the very few showrunners to run two network shows.

THE GOOD WIFE (CBS-Paramount/Scott Free) is a female driven law drama starring ER‘s Julianna Margulies. I hear it’s locked and on the fall schedule already.

U.S. ATTORNEY (CBS-Paramount) didn’t have much buzz at first. But now that CBS has seen it they liked it a lot and it’s said to have a good shot at making the schedule.

MIAMI TRAUMA (Warner Bros/CBS-Paramount) is Jerry Bruckheimer’s medical show, and I’m told Les wants a medical show. But this may not be the one because sources say it was a “soft screening” and is in competition with Three Rivers.

THREE RIVERS (CBS-Paramount/Deuce Three) is looking likely to be the medical drama Les wants (and wants more than rival Miami Trauma). CBS liked what they saw. And the network loves star Alex O’Loughlin. Not only might he bring his small but rabid Moonlight fanbase, but he recently starred in a Criminal Minds sweeps episode. And I hear CBS Films just put him in the feature film Plan B opposite Jennifer Lopez. Insiders are betting this show with a 24 splitscreen feel will go. 

THE EASTMANS (Warner Bros) is about a medical family so it doesn’t quite fall into the Les-wants-a-medical-show category like Miami Trauma and Three Rivers because it’s not procedural. “But a lot of shows have The Eastmans‘ heat,” one of my sources warns.

HOUSE RULES (ABC TV Studio/Mark Gordon Co) suddenly is getting buzz that it “has a lot of heat”. This political drama might be a dark horse to go in the fall.

WASHINGTON FIELD (CBS-Paramount) is from Criminal Minds showrunner Ed Bernero and out of nowhere is suddenly getting real heat.

BACK (CBS-Paramount/Storyline) elicited first word that it had bombed. Then the news came in that Les found it surprisingly good and liked it.

A MARRIAGE (Bedford Falls) is a drama from Zwick & Herskovitz and has no heat.


ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE (CBS-Paramount/BermanBraun) stars Jenna Elfman and is one of the two comedies that CBS bigwigs are highest on. It “went very well” and is considered “good” and “hot”. And Jenna probably pairs better with Julia Louis Dreyfus than Charlie Sheen.

HAPPINESS ISN’T EVERYTHING (Sony TV/Paramount/Tantamount) is the younger-skewing sitcom starring Jason Biggs that the network thinks could do well paired with The Big Bang Theory. “The network is happy with the way it came in.” Good thing, too, because this is CBS’ biggest commitment and there’s a giant penalty. Five scripts are already in.

WAITING TO DIE (Sony TV/Tantamount) is the other sitcom that CBS thinks skews younger and could be paired nicely with The Big Bang Theory. But Happiness Isn’t Everything has more heat.

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