The networks didn’t cut back on pilot orders this year — benefitting several TV execs-turned-producers the most.
Leading the pilot charts this year are a handful of ex-network and studio players who have repositioned themselves as nonwriting exec producers. That includes ex-ABC Entertainment prexy Jamie Tarses and former Sony Pictures TV execs Sarah Timberman, Carl Beverly and Eric Tannenbaum.
Also having a good year: the partnership between ex-ABC Entertainment chairman Lloyd Braun and former Fox Entertainment president Gail Berman; and Brian Grazer’s Imagine TV, run by former NBC and Fox exec David Nevins.
Tarses’ Fan Fare, Timberman/Beverly Prods., Tannenbaum’s Tantamount (which he runs with wife Kim and scribe Mitch Hurwitz), Berman/Braun and Imagine have received three pilot orders each this development season. That’s the sign of a successful development season to begin with, and all the more rare considering the difficulty in landing even one pickup.
But nets and studios have bet big on ex-execs as producers in recent years, and are increasingly relying on them to provide some of the functions that now-downsized programming teams once handled. Much development rolls through these nonwriting producer pods — and from both established and newcomer scribes.
These producers also have an advantage when it comes to selling their wares: Having been in those Herman Miller executive chairs, they know what elements are conducive to a pickup better than most.The real challenge, of course, comes in getting a series on the air. Tantamount, for example, had a huge pilot season last year as well, but got only one show (“Brothers”) on the air. BermanBraun and Timberman/Beverly also are still hunting for a scripted hit, while Fan Fare has fared better in cable.Nonetheless, they’ve made it this far — and from the auspices they’re working with, all have a good shot and landing at least one series on the air.
And another telling sign: Fan Fare, Timberman/Beverly and Tantamount are all based at Sony, a nonaligned studio that has pilots set up at all Big Four nets. (Fellow indie Warner Bros. is also doing well with its pods, including Bruckheimer, Bad Robot and Wonderland).
Imagine, meanwhile, is at 20th, which is also more inclined to sell outside its network than the other aligned studios. BermanBraun is based at NBC Universal; all three of its pilots are at the Peacock.
Tarses’ crop includes the ABC Matthew Perry starrer “Mr. Sunshine”; “True Love” (from her brother, Matt Tarses) at CBS; and the Alphabet sitcom “Happy Endings.”
Timberman/Beverly, meanwhile, has the Jack Orman drama “Matadors” at ABC, the Michael Dinner actioner “ATF” at CBS and an untitled Ed Redlich drama at the Eye.
For Tantamount, projects include the Rob Riggle entry “Team Spitz” at the Eye, where it’s also behind a show from “Borat” alums Ant Hines and Larry Charles. At ABC, it has “Wright vs. Wrong.”
BermanBraun has “The Cape,” “Rex Is Not Your Lawyer” and an Adam Carolla sitcom, all at NBC (where the company is based).
Imagine, meanwhile, has an IRS comedy inspired by Ron Howard at Fox; NBC’s “Friends With Benefits,” from “Wedding Crashers” helmer David Dobkin and the “500 Days of Summer” scribes (rescued from ABC); and Fox’s “Most Likely to Succeed.”
Other producers having a good year include Chris Brancato and Bert Salke, who have the hourlong “True Blue” and an untitled cop drama from Richard Hatem, both at ABC. Scribe Jon Harmon Feldman, who wrote “True Blue,” also penned the Michael Chiklis starrer “No Ordinary Family” for the Alphabet net.
Perennial network favorite Jerry Bruckheimer TV has fugitive-themed actioner “Chase” at NBC and legal drama “The Whole Truth” at ABC.
McG’s Wonderland TV (run by former Fox exec Peter Johnson) has “Nikita” lined up at the CW and a semi-scripted Charles comedy at NBC (which makes it two for Charles, as well).
The Mark Gordon Co. is behind a “Criminal Minds” spinoff at CBS and “It Takes a Village” at ABC.
The management/production firm Principato Young has Riggle’s “Team Spitz,” as well as NBC’s “The Strip,” from “Reno 911’s” Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon.