Busy networks give greenlights to several pilots
Pilot producers got the calls they were waiting for on Wednesday, as NBC, Fox and ABC picked up several more series for the coming season.ABC gave its first series order of the season to — no surprise here — its Michael Chiklis series “No Ordinary Family.” Also, busy NBC ordered its sixth skein for the fall, romantic laffer “Perfect Couples” — and the network isn’t done yet. And Fox gave series orders to five of its most-buzzed about pilots: Dramas “Ridealong” and “Lone Star” (formerly known as “Midland”), as well as laffers “Keep Hope Alive,” “Traffic Light” and “Wilde Kingdom.” The net also gave renewals to bubble dramas “Lie to Me” and “Human Target,” both of which are believed to have landed 13-episode pickups. NBC and Fox kick off a week of network upfront presentations with their respective events on Monday. “Couples” joins previously announced series pickups “Chase,” “Undercovers,” “The Event,” “Love Bites” and “Outsourced.” Laffer centers on three couples with varying definitions of what constitutes the perfect relationship. Cast is mostly fresh-faced thesps: Kyle Howard, Christine Woods, Dave Walton, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Hayes MacArthur and Olivia Munn. “Couples” comes from scribes Jon Pollack and Scott Silveri, who serve as exec producers. Andy Ackerman directed the pilot for Universal Media Studios. “Jon and Scott are hugely talented writer-producers and they’ve really delivered with ‘Perfect Couples,’ ” said Angela Bromstad, NBC and UMS prexy of primetime entertainment. Pickup of the rom-com heightens the expectation that NBC will open up a second block of comedies. Also at NBC, things weren’t looking good for bubble skein “Heroes,” which isn’t expected to return (or if it does, will only briefly come back to wrap things up). Meanwhile, when one superhero door closes, another opens: “No Ordinary Family,” from ABC Studios, was seen as a slam-dunk given its star caliber and its highly marketable concept: An unlikely family acquires superpowers after a plane crash. Besides Chiklis, show also stars Tate Donovan, Autumn Reeser and Julie Benz, among others. Greg Berlanti is exec producing, along with Jon Harmon Feldman, both of whom wrote the pilot. EPs also include Morgan Wandell and Marc Guggenheim, as well as David Semel, who also directed the pilot. At Fox, insiders confirm that Fox has already put the finishing touches on its fall sked. But there’s still the possibility of shifts up until Sunday night, when things are locked for the net’s Monday upfront presentation. Pickup news was sweet for the Will Arnett starrer “Wilde Kingdom,” which almost collapsed this winter when Sony Pictures TV opted to pull out. Laffer, now produced by Lionsgate (along with Tantamount), stars Arnett as a jerk in Beverly Hills who falls in love with a woman (Keri Russell) who has strong values. Tantamount’s Mitch Hurwitz, Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum exec produce, along with Jim Vallely and Principato-Young’s Peter Principato and Paul Young. Pickup is an “Arrested Development” reunion for Fox. Vallely, Hurwitz and Arnett wrote the pilot, while Joe Russo directed. “Ridealong” creator Shawn Ryan, meanwhile, was finally able to celebrate for real, a day after “The Big Bang Theory” showrunner Bill Prady prematurely offered his congrats to Ryan for the pickup via Twitter. An embarrassed Prady later gagged that “I am officially making the commitment that if I screwed things up for (Shawn Ryan), I will personally pick up ‘Ridealong’ ” — to which Ryan replied Wednesday, “Someone just saved Bill Prady a lot of money.” The Chicago-set cop drama “Ridealong” comes from Ryan and fellow exec producer Marney Hochman Nash; Charles McDougall directed the pilot. Jennifer Beals, Hason Clark, Matt Lauria and Delroy Lindo are among the stars. As for “Lone Star,” sudsy drama centers on a family in the oil business. Kyle Killen wrote the pilot and EPs with Chris Keyser and Amy Lippman (who serve as showrunners), Kerry Kohansky, Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz. Marc Webb directed the pilot. In comedy, Greg Garcia is behind “Keep Hope Alive,” about a guy who has a one-night stand with a woman who ends up on death row, but gives birth to his child. Michael Fresco directed the pilot and EPs with Garcia. Stars include Martha Plimpton. And “Traffic Light” is based on the Israeli series about three friends and their relationships. Bob Fisher wrote the pilot and EPs with Dave Hemingson, Adir Miller, Avi Nir, Ran Telem and Elad Koperman. Chris Koch directed the pilot. As for “Lie to Me,” Fox was considering waiting until summer to see how the show’s remaining episodes fared, particularly now that Ryan will no longer serve as showrunner. It appears other producers already on the show will assume showrunner duties “Ridelong,” “Lone Star,” “Keep Hope Alive” and “Traffic Light” come from 20th Century Fox TV. Next up: ABC’s Matthew Perry-led “Mr. Sunshine” and drama “Generation Y,” among others. Meanwhile, news appeared less stellar for projects such as Matthew Broderick’s “Beach Lane” at NBC and Fox’s buzzed-about drama “Breakout Kings.”
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