'Reba' rejected from the WB

Fox has given early greenlights to dramas “Primary” and “American Crime,” continuing this season’s trend toward pre-upfront pickups.

Meanwhile, it’s apparently curtains for “Reba,” the Reba McEntire laffer that airs on the WB.

While 20th Century Fox TV has a deal with the Frog for one more season of the show, the CW, which will absorb both WB and UPN in September, has told 20th it’s not interested in bringing “Reba” back.

Neither 20th nor the CW would comment Friday.

But in order to get out of the WB’s commitment to 20th, execs at the studio believe the CW will have to write 20th a hefty check — perhaps more than $10 million. There’s no word on whether the CW agrees with that notion.

This coming season “American Crime” is the only pilot produced by Warner Bros. TV-based Jerry Bruckheimer Television. Skein revolves around a group of high-profile defense attorneys. Cast includes “Alias” star Victor Garber.

Jonathan Shapiro wrote the pilot and exec produces, along with Jerry Bruckheimer, his TV chief Jonathan Littman and pilot director David McNally.

“Primary,” from 20th Century Fox TV, is a “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”-type hour about hostage negotiators. Project, which stars Ron Livingston and Rosemarie DeWitt, had been given the go-ahead to start staffing and building sets Thursday, making a pickup almost a formality (Daily Variety, May 5).

Craig Silverstein is the writer-exec producer on “Primary,” while Tim Story directed and also exec produces the project.

Fox last week ordered the drama “Vanished” and laffer “‘Til Death,” while NBC has given the official go-ahead to three drama projects for next season.

Insiders believe Fox will order at least two more dramas — possibly one for fall and one for midseason. Hot Fox prospects include the Dixie mob drama “Southern Comfort” and the legal sudser “Damages,” both from 20th Century Fox TV. Early buzz on the NASA-themed “Beyond,” from 20th Century Fox/Imagine TV, was weak but is improving; it could now be a contender.

At NBC, beyond the already heavy talk on “Friday Night Lights” and “Heroes” (both of which are staffing), talk is swirling around “Raines,” the Graham Yost police drama from NBC U TV that stars Jeff Goldblum.

CBS is said to still be mulling which D.C. project to pick up: the legal drama “Capital Law” (from Carol Mendelsohn and CBS Par TV) or the government agent-themed “Company Town” (also from CBS Par). Also, the comicbook-themed “Ultra” may wind up being redeveloped for sib netlet the CW.

One source said the Eye’s “Shark,” the James Woods starrer from 20th and Imagine, is among leading contenders. Sources think CBS will order up to three dramas for fall, with another for midseason.

Eye’s drama needs likely will be driven by the seemingly inevitable decision to dump its Sunday movie franchise in favor of comedies. There’s already buzz about internal debates over moving one of the net’s current drama anchors — perhaps “Without a Trace”– to Sundays.

Busting up the successful CBS Thursday lineup would be a tough call for Eye programmers, especially as the net continues to widen its lead over NBC on the night. Some might figure, however, that this fall could be exactly the right time to take advantage of NBC’s weakness, particularly since “CSI” — while still a powerhouse — isn’t getting any younger.

Mum’s the word at ABC, but agency and studio execs are predicting the net may order as many as seven pilots. Hot projects include “Daybreak,” “Drift,” “Nine Lives,” “Secrets of a Small Town,” “October Road” and “Ugly Betty.”

Then there’s the CW, which some believe may head into fall without the one pilot that seemed like a sure thing: “Aquaman.” Topping the list there appears to be the Sony TV entry “Runaway.”

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