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Chaos for ‘Chaos’, and more tough TV dealmaking

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(Above: Brett Ratner on the set of CBS’ “Chaos” pilot. Photo by Sterling Davis Photo, via Flickr.)

The days leading up to the network upfront presentations were remarkably free of tough last-minute negotiating between networks and studios — partly because, in many cases, deals were pre-negotiated, and in many more cases, the networks were picking up series from their studio siblings.

Things have gotten a bit more hairy post-upfront, as studios aiming to save orphaned series (“Ghost Whisperer,” “The New Adventures of Old Christine”) haven’t had much luck doing so; and negotiations to eke out a few more midseason pickups have run into several snags.

As Variety heard on Friday (as did Deadline TV, which posted their take here), CBS and 20th Century Fox TV are currently in a faceoff over “Chaos,” the Brett Ratner actioner that is expected to land an order at the Eye.

Expected, but not guaranteed, given the back-and-forth between both sides. CBS initially gave the show an 8-episode order — which 20th balked at, as there’s not much upside (and no chance of international sales) of producing a show at such a small order.

CBS came back and then offered a 13 episode pickup (including pilot), but at a reduced license fee. That may still be a difficult go for 20th, however, as the studio has already reduced costs on the project (including shooting it in Dallas, where the studio already built the tax incentives into the show’s budget). 

From the Eye’s perspective, the network doesn’t really need “Chaos,” given its already jam-packed schedule (and previous midseason “Criminal Minds” pickup). What’s more, the humor-laced “Chaos” reps a departure for the net, which airs mostly straight-ahead procedurals like the “CSI,” “NCIS” and “Criminal Minds” franchises.

Should a deal not be hammered out for “Chaos,” CBS may decide not to pick up anything else — or may give a short order to the John Wells/Hannah Shakespeare medical drama “Gimme Shelter.”

Meanwhile, CBS is still waiting for Sony Pictures TV to sign off on its 13-episode order for the half-hour laffer “Mad Love.”  That show is undergoing some mad cast problems, however, as several positions are being refilled (including the roles held in the pilot by On the Air faves Minka Kelly and Lizzy Caplan).

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