Upfront Buzz: Brad Paisley in Talks for ‘Rising Star,’ NBC, Fox, ABC Pilots Gain Steam

Upfront Buzz: Brad Paisley Talks 'Rising

As ABC execs hunker down on pilot pickup decisions for the coming season, the Alphabet is also busy pulling together talent for its unscripted entry “Rising Star.”

The network is close to a deal with country singer Brad Paisley to serve as a judge on the talent competition series. “Rising Star” is based on a format from Keshet DCP that has been a hit in Israel and has been snapped up by broadcasters in other worldwide territories.

Paisley (pictured) is an established country hitmaker who has also done two guest shots on ABC’s drama “Nashville,” as well as logging appearances on CBS’ “Two and a Half Men” and “The Crazy Ones.” He’s also co-hosted the Alphabet’s Country Music Assn. Awards telecast for the past several years. ABC dcclined comment on the matter.

On the scripted side, the process of winnowing ABC’s new series choices for the 2014-15 season is still very fluid, sources said, but some favorites are emerging. Among comedies, the Michael Imperioli starrer “Saint Francis” is still seen as a strong contender.

Fish out of water comedy “Fresh Off the Boat” has been gaining steam as the screenings continue. “Selfie,” from writer Emily Kapnek, and an untitled entry from writer Brian Gallivan and Will Gluck (formerly known as “Bambi Cottages”) are in the mix. So are two African-American domestic vehicles, one featuring Kevin Hart and the Anthony Anderson starrer “Blackish.”

Among its bubble comedies from this year’s crop, there’s talk of “Mixology” being renewed. Among dramas, the safe bet remains Shonda Rhimes’ “How to Get Away with Murder,” toplined by Viola Davis, and crime drama “Secrets and Lies.” Prospects for “Clementine,” about a femme dealing with psychic powers, are improving.

ABC presents its schedule on May 13.

Fox kicked off this week’s flurry of network series pickups with Monday’s formal greenlight for the “Batman” prequel “Gotham.” The network is expected to make the rest of its orders by Wednesday. Dramas “Red Band” and “Empire” remain hot. On the comedy side at Fox the focus is on “Weird Loners,” “Sober Companion,” “Cabot College” and Will Forte starrer “Last Man on Earth.”

Fox already has “Mulaney,” from “Saturday Night Live” alum John Mulaney, on its comedy bench with episodes in the can. And of its existing bubble shows, comedy “Dads” is expected to get at least a 13-episode sophomore season order.

At NBC two rom-coms that have gained steam in the past 48 hours are “A to Z,” from writer Ben Queen, and “Marry Me,” from “Happy Endings” creator David Caspe. NBC’s drama contenders include Katherine Heigl’s “State of Affairs,” espionage vehicle “Coercion” and Debra Messing procedural “The Mysteries of Laura.”

“Constantine,” a fantasy-occult vehicle based on the DC Comics property, is also in the mix. Conspiracy thriller “Odyssey” may get a long-form nod and be positioned as a event series.

NBC and Fox present their skeds on May 12.

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