Network development slims down

Fox, CW, ABC set for abbreviated pilot season

Fox and the CW have slimmed down their development rosters, and ABC may do the same.

The nets are falling in line with CBS, which also dropped several scripts from its drama and comedy rosters late last week.

With an abbreviated pilot season now a reality, the nets are all starting to implement contingency plans — and in this case, it means cutting back on projects that probably couldn’t be made at this point anyway.

“In the current environment, we’ve been forced to take a hard look at our needs for the upcoming season, and as a result, we’re going to target a more focused range of projects,” Fox said in a statement.

Fox cut at least eight scripts from its sibling 20th Century Fox TV studio and many more from outside suppliers. Insiders said the 20th cuts were mostly lower-level scripts that had little or no penalties attached. Once the strike is settled, Fox will still have a handful of pilots it can potentially pick up as series (including dramas “The Cure,” “The FBI” and “Queen B”).

Just hours after Fox said it was cutting back its scripted development, the CW confirmed it was doing the same thing.

About a dozen projects, both comedies and dramas, have been killed in the strike-related move. Most are believed to come from CW sibs Warner Bros. TV and CBS Par Network TV.

“Due to the ongoing work stoppage, the CW will be taking a more targeted approach to what is certain to be a truncated pilot season,” the net said in a statement released Tuesday. “As a result, we are releasing some scripts that had been in development in order to dedicate our creative energy and resources to those projects we choose to pursue.”

And more projects may still be killed.

ABC execs last week called a number of studio chiefs and warned them that, if the strike lasted long enough, the network could end up reducing its script orders by as much as 30%. As of Tuesday afternoon, however, the network hadn’t actually ordered any cutbacks.

NBC hasn’t discussed its plans.