Fox chases three pilots
Fox has given three shows — including a pair of pilots from feature producer Barry Josephson — the greenlight to start staffing up, while NBC may be ready to dismiss the latest incarnation of “Law & Order.”
With less than 96 hours remaining before the Peacock kicks off upfront week, more shows continued to move closer to landing series pickups, while some veteran skeins seemed headed for cancellation. Meanwhile, scribe Jon Pollack (“Just Shoot Me”) has come aboard as one of three showrunners for “Joey” amid word the flagging comedy may be on the move.
Most surprisingly, Peacock appears poised to end “Law & Order: Trial by Jury,” the fourth edition of producer Dick Wolf’s “L&O” brand. Skein’s lackluster ratings performance on a tough Friday night sked makes NBC’s decision understandable, but the Peacock’s longtime relationship with Wolf makes a cancellation of the skein after less than half a season stunning.
NBC reps said net would not comment on any speculation about pickups or scheduling, including the fate of “L&O: TBJ.” A Wolf spokeswoman also declined comment.
“Law & Order: Trial by Jury” opened soft for NBC this spring, failing so far to catch the franchise’s fire.
After 10 airings, the show has averaged 11.2 million viewers — making it the least-viewed of the four “Law & Order” series. Last week’s episode averaged just a 2.8 rating/9 share among adults 18-49, placing it second for the Friday 10 p.m. hour (behind CBS’ “Numbers”).
“Trial by Jury” is a departure from the three other “L&O” series, focusing on the judicial system (with no police work attached). Bebe Neuwirth, Tracey Kibre, Amy Carlson and Fred Dalton Thompson star; the late Jerry Orbach was originally also slated to star but completed only a handful of episodes before passing away.
Wolf exec produces with Walon Green and Peter Jankowski.
As for Fox, industry insiders said the net has approved staffing for three pilots: the Josephson-produced “Bones” and “Head Cases” and comedy “The War at Home.” Fox declined to confirm anything.
Assuming “Bones” and “Head Cases” get formal pickups next week, Josephson (“Hide and Seek”) will see his entire pilot slate picked up to series. Producer has other projects in the works at 20th, though he’s not based at the studio in TV.
“Head Cases,” from 20th Century Fox TV, revolves around a lawyer who has a nervous breakdown. Chris O’Donnell and Adam Goldberg star in the drama from Josephson, Bill Chais and Jeff Rake.
Josephson’s other project, “Bones,” also from 20th Century Fox TV, stars Emily Deschanel as a female forensic anthropologist. Hart Hanson also exec produces.
Then there’s “The War at Home,” from Warner Bros. TV and Acme Prods. Michael Rapaport and Anita Barone play the parents of rebellious teens. Rob Lotterstein, Mindy Schultheis and Michael Hanel exec produce.
On the “Joey” front, Pollack will join current exec producers Kevin Bright and Scott Silveri as co-showrunner of the Warner Bros. TV-produced laffer. Shana Goldberg-Meehan, who created the “Friends” spinoff with Silveri, has opted to ankle the skein but will continue to develop for WBTV under her overall deal with the studio.
After a promising start last fall, “Joey” has proved a disappointment for NBC. In recent weeks, it has been a distant second to CBS’ “Survivor” on Thursday nights, and it is essentially drawing the same young adult aud as Fox’s “The OC.”
To that end, there were solid indications that NBC is mulling the idea of moving “Joey” off its Thursday night lineup, perhaps to a slot on Tuesday.
Also on the cancellation watch, there were strong indications that ABC is mulling a fall sked sans laffers “8 Simple Rules” and “My Wife and Kids.”