Fox and ABC have placed their pilot bets for the coming season, or at least most of them.
Fox is big on franchise dramas, picking up two cop dramas (one about an immortal officer, the other about the force in New Orleans), a Terminator spinoff and a legal show centered on a female D.A.
On the comedy side, the net plans to rely on some big-name stars (Kelsey Grammer, Patricia Heaton, Parker Posey) and producers (Steven Levitan, Chris Lloyd, Amy Sherman-Palladino) to increase its stable of live-action laffers.
ABC has a yen for bold, gutsy women this year in its drama slate — They solve murders! They balance their lives and loves in Manhattan! They leave the safety of a hit Thursday night show to go solo in Santa Monica! — and mysterious men who can resurrect dead people (and kill them again) and one who thinks he’s a prophet. Net also has given the series go-ahead to four offbeat comedies.
ABC presents its 2007-08 slate to advertisers in New York on Tuesday; Fox is the last of the nets in the upfront parade, presenting on Thursday.
Fox wasn’t confirming anything during the weekend, but pilots given the series go-ahead late Friday included “K-Ville,” “New Amsterdam,” “The Sarah Connor Chronicles” and “Canterbury’s Law,” while sitcoms yukking it up all the way to a timeslot in 2007-08 include “Back to You,” “Return of Jezebel James” and “Rules for Starting Over.”
“K-Ville” focuses on the lives of cops in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. Jonathan Lisco exec produces.
“New Amsterdam,” from Regency TV, is about a homicide cop who harbors a secret: He’s old. Really old. Like hundreds of years old. He’s looking for a way to end that, while solving crimes along the way. Exec producers include Lasse Hallstrom, Michael Hausman, Leslie Holleran, Allan Loeb, David Manson, Steven Pearl and Christian Taylor.
“Sarah Connor” stars Lena Headey as the famed character from the Terminator movies. Show focuses on the character as she attempts to stop the famed robots as they attempt to harm her son. Josh Friedman, Mario Kassar, Andrew Vajna, James Middleton and Joel Michaels exec produce the Warner Bros. TV skein.
“Canterbury’s Law” stars Julianna Margulies as a tough-talking district attorney. Sony Pictures TV is behind the show; Denis Leary and Jim Serpico exec produce for the duo’s Apostle shingle.
On the comedy front, “Back to You” had already been given a series commitment, so its greenlight was a no-brainer. Making it even more of a no-brainer: Its auspices include exec producers Levitan and Lloyd, and stars Grammer and Heaton. Twentieth Century Fox TV produces.
Viewers mourning the loss of “Gilmore Girls” may find solace in “The Return of Jezebel James,” from “Gilmore” creator Sherman-Palladino and Regency TV. Series, starring Posey and Lauren Ambrose, centers on a woman who asks her estranged sister to carry her child. Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino exec produce.
Also on tap is “Rules for Starting Over,” from the Farrelly Bros. Show follows a man who re-enters the dating scene. Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Brad Johnson and Bradley Thomas exec produce; 20th Century Fox TV is the studio.
Those laffers will join a returning crop that includes the soph season of ” ‘Til Death.” Most observers expect that the Brad Garrett comedy will be paired with “Back to You,” featuring Garrett’s old “Everybody Loves Raymond” co-star Heaton.
Meanwhile, ABC’s pilot picks include the most obvious choice of the year, the “Grey’s Anatomy” spinoff — still tentatively titled “Private Practice” (apologies to fans still rooting for the title “Montgomery’s Ward”). “Private Practice” appeared to be a sure thing after last week’s “Grey’s” episode, a backdoor pilot for the spinoff, passed its initial Nielsen check-up with flying colors.
“Private Practice,” starring Kate Walsh, comes from ABC Studios and exec producers Shonda Rhimes, Marti Noxon, Betsy Beers and Mark Gordon.
Also, it was a great weekend for Greg Berlanti — already riding high thanks to the strength of returning drama “Brothers & Sisters,” which he’s credited with breathing new life into earlier this season. ABC Studios’ pact with Berlanti has paid off, with two more series from the producer hitting the Alphabet airwaves next season.
The pair of dramas include “Dirty Sexy Money,” a legal sudser starring Peter Krause as an attorney who takes over the family business when his father suddenly dies. ABC Studios produces; Berlanti, Bryan Singer, Melissa Berman, Matt Gross and Craig Wright are exec producers.
Berlanti’s other project, “Eli Stone,” is a spiritual drama about a man (Jonny Lee Miller) who believes he may be a prophet. Loretta Devine, Natasha Henstridge and Victor Garber also star. Berlanti EPs with Marc Guggenheim.
Among the other pickups, the fantasy crime drama “Pushing Daisies” revolves around a man who discovers he can resurrect dead people with the touch of his hand — but that if he touches them again, they once again leave this mortal coil. Warner Bros. TV is the studio; Bryan Fuller, Dan Jinks, Bruce Cohen and Barry Sonnenfeld exec produce. Cast includes Chi McBride, Kristin Chenoweth, Swoosie Kurtz and Lee Pace.
“Big Shots,” from Warner Bros. TV, follows a group of male execs supporting each other through life. Stars include Dylan McDermott, Michael Vartan, Christopher Titus and Joshua Molina; Jon Feldman exec produces.
“Cashmere Mafia” focuses on a group of thirtysomething women (including Lucy Liu, Bonnie Somerville and Frances O’Connor) as they navigate life in New York — consider it the flip side of “Big Shots.” Sony Pictures TV is behind the show, as are producers Darren Star and Gail Katz. Kevin Wade exec produces with Star and Katz.
“Women’s Murder Club” is based on the James Patterson novels about four women who chase serial killers in San Francisco. Twentieth Century Fox TV is the studio; Shawn Ryan, Scott Winant, Brett Ratner, Joe Simpson, Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft exec produce, as does Patterson.
Among ABC’s comedy pickups, the talk of the town is “Cavemen.” Based on the Geico series of commercials, laffer centers on early homosapiens living and working in Atlanta — and experiencing prejudice along the way. ABC Studios is behind the show; exec producers include Mike Schiff, Bill Martin, Guymon Casady, Daniel Rappaport, Josh Gordon and Will Speck.
“Sam I Am,” from ABC Studios and Brillstein-Grey Television, stars Christina Applegate as a woman who contracts amnesia — and realizes she wasn’t well-liked in her old life. ABC Studios is the studio; Donald Todd is exec producer, with Brillstein-Grey’s Peter Traugott.
“Carpoolers” follows the exploits of a group of men who share the ride to work. ABC Studios is behind the show; Bruce McCulloch exec produces with DreamWorks’ Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank and 3 Arts’ David Miner.
Late Sunday, ABC picked up 13 segs of the skein “Miss/Guided” for midseason. Net is in talks with 20th Century Fox about producing the show as a co-production with ABC Studios.
Comedy, created by Caroline Williams and exec produced by Ashton Kutcher, Jason Goldberg, Karey Burke and Todd Holland stars Judy Greer as a former ugly duckling who returns to her alma-mater as a guidance counselor only to have her high school nemesis join her as a teacher.
Joining those new shows is the return of “Notes From the Underbelly,” which scored a 13-episode pickup. Another bubble show that appeared to be on the verge of renewal was “Knights of Prosperity.”
ABC had held back on the final episodes of “Prosperity’s” initial run, featuring Ray Romano, in the hopes that the star wattage might help relaunch the show.
With all four nets bringing back bubble shows, they appeared to be adhering to the conventional wisdom that they’d rather keep and try to grow the critically acclaimed but low-rated shows they already have (read: NBC’s “Friday Night Lights”) — given all the time, money and patience already spent on said shows — than try to do it all over again with new, untested properties that could potentially do even worse.
Of course, the high number of borderline shows making the grade could also be a sign that the webs aren’t as bullish on their development this season as they’d like to be.
As for CBS, comedy buzz currently centers on “The Big Bang Theory,” “The Captain” and “I’m in Hell.” Hot dramas include “Viva Laughlin,” “Swingtown,” “Twilight” and “Los Duques.” Eye announces its sked on Wednesday.