Network nabs pilot after ABC passes
NBC has found its new “Friends” — after ABC cut them loose.The Peacock has given a greenlight to romantic comedy pilot “Friends With Benefits,” from Imagine TV, “Wedding Crashers” director David Dobkin and the scribes behind “500 Days of Summer.” Also on Wednesday, the CW added more adrenaline to its pilot lineup, picking up the actioner “Nomads.” And “Better Off Ted” star Jay Harrington has decided he’s better off finding a new gig, taking the lead in NBC’s pilot “Nathan vs. Nurture.” In the case of “Friends With Benefits,” the laffer was set up at ABC, which gave the show a script-plus-penalty order last fall. ABC eventually passed on the project, but the fast-moving folks at 20th Century Fox TV and Imagine believed they still had a strong asset — and immediately found a new home at NBC. Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber (“500 Days”) wrote “Friends With Benefits,” which centers on five friends looking for love but settling for “friends with benefits” in the meantime. The single-camera entry reps the first TV project for Neustadter and Weber, who penned the script and will exec produce along with Dobkin. Imagine’s Brian Grazer and David Nevins are also exec producers. “Nomads,” meanwhile, centers on a group of backpackers who make extra money by doing secret missions for the CIA. Drama comes from creator Ken Sanzel (“Numbers”), as well as Ridley Scott and Tony Scott, through their Scott Free Prods. Sanzel will direct the pilot in addition to writing and creating “Nomads.” The project will be shot as a presentation. CBS TV Studios and Warner Bros. TV are the studios. Sanzel, the Scotts and David Zucker are exec producers. As for Harrington, his casting on “Nathan vs. Nurture” is another indicator that “Ted” isn’t likely to return. On “Nathan vs. Nurture,” Harrington will play Nathan, a heart surgeon who discovers his biological parents — and his underachieving siblings. David Guarascio and Moses Port are behind the sitcom, while James Burrows is directing. Sony Pictures TV is the studio. “Better Off Ted” earned top critical praise but wasn’t able to attract many viewers during its two brief seasons on ABC. Show starred Harrington as the employee of a mega-corporation. Harrington’s other credits include “Private Practice,” “Coupling,” “The Inside” and the telepic “Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy.” As is normal for thesps whose shows have technically not been canceled, “Nathan vs. Nurture” is in second position for Harrington’s services. But with “Ted” not expected to return, that isn’t likely to be an issue. “Numbers” star David Krumholtz is in a similar situation, having recently been cast in Fox’s IRS-themed comedy pilot from Imagine TV and Ron Howard.