This weekend’s TV stories in Weekly Variety

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:: Pilot production continues to flee the coasts, as projects are shot in a wider variety of hot spots outside of Los Angeles. MICHAEL SCHNEIDER writes:

Despite an uptick in broadcast pilot orders this year, Los Angeles — and New York, too — is increasingly losing out to a wide variety of locales across the country.

The trend is most notable in drama, as a majority of pilots are being shot this spring in places such as Chicago, Atlanta, Hawaii, New Mexico and Dallas.

The runaway champ may be CW, which is taking a page from cable and shooting all but one of its pilots in Canada.

“It’s simply about the economics,” one studio exec says. “We all have to take our shows abroad and get the benefits of tax rebates.”

Glee-cast
::The buzz surrounding “Glee” is deafening this week, as the show finally returns after a long hiatus. But as JON WEISMAN writes, the success of “Glee” isn’t spawning any copycats at the networks:

Despite proving the industry could create a popular smallscreen musical, Fox’s “Glee” (which returns from its winter hiatus this week) didn’t inspire a single scripted TV tuner for any broadcast network this development season. In fact, there is no indication that any production team even presented the networks with a musical to consider.

In contrast, after fellow Peabody-award winner “Modern Family” of ABC became a breakout comedy success in 2009-10, development execs followed precedent, rightly or wrongly, and dove heavily into the sitcom pilot pool.

“I heard a lot of people say, ‘Give us our version of “Modern Family” this year,” Twentieth Century Fox TV chairman Gary Newman says. “I didn’t hear anyone say, ‘Give us our version of “Glee.'”

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::BRIAN LOWRY checks in with MSNBC pundit and former “The West Wing” writer Lawrence O’Donnell, who continues to split his time between talking about Washington and writing in Hollywood:

While cable talk opportunities would appear to beckon, he remains eager to return his focus to some fictional world, currently finishing up a pilot script for HBO.

Granted, there’s a degree of irony in that. At a time when many in Hollywood yearn to get their voices heard in the political realm — even if it means enduring derision from foaming-mouth pundits in opposing camps — what O’Donnell really wants to do is write and produce.

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