Fox locks in series for fall

Net gives okay to 'Vanished,' 'Til Death'

Fox has given early greenlights to two series, picking up the hourlong missing-woman mystery “Vanished” and the Brad Garrett laffer “Til Death.”

Also Thursday, NBC ordered another year of its “Law & Order” trilogy, including the mothership, which enters season 17 this fall.

The advance Fox pickups will give the net a jump on the fall, a necessity for the web as much of its October sked is preempted for baseball coverage. Last year, net found success in picking up and airing “Prison Break” prior to the official start of the season.

“In the case of both shows, given the quality of them, the decision was inevitable,” Fox exec VP Craig Erwich sais. “Sometimes when you know, you know. They fit into the brand and the strategy of what we’re trying to do here. Why rest on the formality of the upfront?”

“Vanished,” from 20th Century Fox TV and creator Josh Berman, revolves around a senator’s wife who goes missing as part of a larger conspiracy.

Inspired by the country’s ongoing fascination with missing women, the story behind “Vanished” will unfold throughout the season, as told through the eyes of law enforcement, family members and the media.

Mimi Leder (who directed the pilot) and Paul Redford exec produce the drama, which stars John Allen Nelson, John Patrick Amedori, Ming-Na, Chris Egan, Robert Hoffman, Margarita Levieva, Joanne Kelly, Gale Harold and Rebecca Gayheart.

“We’ve had success with epic sagas over the last few years, and this one is delicious in the way that any great mystery novel is,” Erwich said. “There’s also a great franchise at the center of it.”

Net had already picked up four more scripts in addition to the pilot (Daily Variety, Jan. 5), giving the show an even faster lead on getting ready for fall. Berman said he was “flattered by Fox’s early vote of confidence in ‘Vanished.’ ”

As for “Til Death,” Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa created and exec produce the half-hour sitcom for Sony Pictures TV.

Garrett and Joely Fisher star as a long-married couple whose new neighbors are idealistic newlyweds (Eddie Kaye Thomas, Kat Foster). Vet TV director James Burrows helmed the pilot.

“Marriage is a subject that has been written about as much as anything, but just when you thought the well was dry, Josh and Cathy came in with a whole new host of observations,” Erwich said.

Sony Pictures TV prexy Jamie Erlicht said he was pleased to get cracking on the show early, but more importantly, “it helps ease the anxiety going into pilot season.” The studio already has another series order, for NBC’s “Kidnapped,” heading into next season.

Over at NBC, “Law & Order” has had a difficult year, averaging just a 3.5 rating/9 share in adults 18-49 this season, as well as 11.1 million viewers overall. But the franchise remains a key part of the Peacock’s DNA, and the original series still delivers an upscale audience for the web.

“We are thrilled that we are continuing to do what this remarkable team has done so successfully for the past 16 years — create episodes that excite, educate, disturb and, sometimes, even infuriate our audiences,” creator-exec producer Dick Wolf said.

At 17 seasons, “Law & Order” is the second-longest running drama in TV history and the longest-running police skein.

With the pickup, sibling series “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” will enter its eighth season next fall. “SVU” now outrates the show that spawned it, averaging a 5.0 rating/13 share in adults 18-49. It’s also the Peacock’s most-watched drama overall, averaging 13.9 million viewers.

“Law & Order: Criminal Intent” heads into its sixth season this September; show has averaged a 3.2/7 with adults 18-49 and 10.9 million viewers this season.

Wolf and Peter Jankowski exec produce all three shows. Nicholas Wootton, Matthew Penn and Walon Green also exec produce “L&O”; Neal Baer and Ted Kotcheff are exec producers on “SVU”; and Rene Balcer and Fred Berner are exec producers on “Criminal Intent.”

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