ABC trims pilots’ wings

Web inks two Touchstone projects

Following a trail blazed by the Peacock web, ABC has begun greenlighting its drama scripts as presentations rather than full-length pilots.

On Friday, Alphabet ordered pilot presentations for “Wilder Days,” a family hour from ATG and Touchstone Television, and an untitled Imagine/Touchstone comedy from producer-scribe duo Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (“EDtv,” “City Slickers”). Both projects will be produced as 30-35 minute presentations rather than 45-minute-plus pilots.

ABC execs are considering a plan to produce only presentations this development season; they are currently in conversations with studios about the feasibility of such a move. NBC’s decision to make all of its hourlongs as presentations has met with vocal public resistance from studio toppers.

Studios are crying foul because webs pay as much as $1 million less for presentations than they do for full-length pilots.

Peacock has justified the change by arguing that the savings realized through the shorter presentations can be used to produce more drama projects. NBC Entertainment prexy Garth Ancier helped pioneer the presentation trend while running the WB.

As for ABC, the Disney-owned web is always on a mission to control costs, making presentations vs. pilots an easy choice. Industry insiders, however, say the net has not yet firmly committed to a presentations-only rule for this drama development cycle.

Other nets may soon follow NBC’s and ABC’s moves toward presentations, according to industry insiders, who said execs at CBS and Fox have had conversations about the possibility of going the presentation route.

A family drama with heavy comedic touches, the Babaloo-Ganz skein in the works is expected to closely echo the tone of the scribes’ smash feature success “Parenthood,” which was turned into a half-hour laffer in 1990.

Babaloo and Ganz’s comedy credit list includes screenplays for “A League of Their Own,” “Father’s Day,” “Forget Paris,” “Greedy,” “Multiplicity” and “City Slickers II.” On the TV side, pair created and exec produced “Hiller and Diller” and exec produced a series based on “A League of Their Own.”

“Wilder Days,” meanwhile, is being pitched as a multigenerational family drama which will feature a strong patriarch at its center. Skein comes from thesp turned producer Jonathan Prince, exec producer of UPN’s “Grown Ups.”

Prince’s other producing credits include “Ask Harriet,” “Pauly,” “Something Wilder” and “Blossom.” He’s also appeared on camera, landing roles on “L.A. Law,” “Life Goes On,” “Murphy Brown” and “Mr. Merlin.”

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