You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Network pilots pick up steam

'Rockford,' 'Chase,' 'Hawaii' among hot projects

There are no sure things during pilot season — except J.J. Abrams’ “Undercovers.”

The spy-fy drama that Abrams co-wrote with Josh Reims is considered a lock for NBC’s 2010-11 schedule. The Peacock is poised to pickup as many as six dramas and four comedies as it looks to rebuild its primetime sked in the wake of last season’s “Jay Leno Show” fiasco.

Next week marks the ultimate crunch time for net execs as they huddle in groups for screenings of the pilots contending for primetime real estate next season. Some screening seshes were held this week, but with many pilots still being completed, the real scrutiny will start next week when execs have the broader selection to cue up. The Big Four nets and the CW will unveil their 2010-11 skeds at the upfronts in Gotham during the week of May 17.

As always, a few projects have enjoyed heat throughout the development derby. NBC is said to be putting out feelers for staff writers on its redo of “The Rockford Files,” which is a good sign the Peacock sees that pilot as a go, and “The Chase,” an actioner about federal marshals tracking down fugitives from the Bruckheimer TV shop. CBS’ new spin on “Hawaii Five-O” is also said to be scouting for staffers.

NBC is expected to pick up the most new shows — given its needs — while CBS has the high-class problem of having only a few open slots for frosh skeins.

NBC’s other drama contenders are said to be the David E. Kelley legal ensembler “Kindreds,” conspiracy thriller “The Event” and “The Cape,” about a former cop who becomes a masked superhero to clear his name. “Love Bites,” the romantic dramedy anthology, also has its fans at the net.

The Peacock comedies generating heat are Paul Reiser’s “Next,” workplace vehicle “Outsourced” (which sounds like a good fit with the rest of its workplace-centric Thursday comedy block), the relationship-centric “Perfect Couples” and family-rooted “This Little Piggy.” The early reviews have been mixed on Matthew Broderick starrer “Beach Lane” but it can’t be counted out, given the star power.

CBS is hard to read, given the cone of silence that execs at the Eye are under at this time of year when it comes to handicapping pilots. In addition to “Five-O,” CBS is said to be gravitating to the “Criminal Minds” spinoff starring Forest Whitaker and “Defenders,” starring Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell as flashy defense attorneys in Las Vegas. Dark horses on the drama side could be “ATF” and “Chaos.”

Insiders believe the “Criminal Minds” spinoff will likely be held for midseason, as CBS is already jampacked with its “CSI” and “NCIS” spinoffs.

Comedy-wise, it’s looking good for William Shatner’s next act as the irascible patriarch of “S**t My Dad Says,” inspired by the popular Twitter feed written Justin Halpern. “Mike and Molly,” from Chuck Lorre and “Two and a Half Men” scribe Mark Roberts, is said to be a virtual lock. “True Love” revolving around a group of friends in Gotham, has come on strong in the last few days.

Preferences at ABC are also still mostly unknown as net execs have not had many group screenings so far. Drama-wise, the chatter has centered on “Body of Evidence,” starring Dana Delany as a crusading medical examiner, the docu-styled cop show “187 Detroit” and “No Ordinary Family,” featuring Michael Chiklis as the head of a family that discovers it has superpowers. Shonda Rhimes’ “Off the Map,” about doctors in a tropical clinic, remains a contender.

“Family” in particular makes Disney execs giddy, as the project’s concept screams franchise — given its family appeal, sci-fi elements and potential to serve as an event-style series.

The comedies with buzz at the Alphabet include Matthew Perry starrer “Mr. Sunshine” and an untitled couples-centric entry from “Friends” scribe Shana Goldberg-Meehan. “It Takes a Village,” about a divorced couple and their new spouses raising a 15-year-old boy, has generated good reviews and is seen as a possible fit with ABC’s family-centric Wednesday block. And “Wright vs. Wrong” has some fans at the network — particularly given its strong femme cast (Debra Messing, Cheryl Hines, Carrie Fisher) — although the final cut is still in post-production.

Fox is laser-focused on fielding a few good live-action comedies next season. “Traffic Light,” revolving around three male friends, has heat, as does the single-dad vehicle “Keeping Hope Alive,” from “My Name is Earl” creator Greg Garcia. Also in the mix are office comedy “Breaking In,” starring Christian Slater, and “Running Wilde,” a reunion of Will Arnett and “Arrested Development’s” Mitch Hurwitz and Jim Vallely.

Leading the Fox drama pack is “Breakout Kings,” an actioner from the “Prison Break” team about ex-cons who team up with marshals to track down fugitives. Shawn Ryan’s Chicago-set cop drama “Ride-Along” has also been very well received. Legal thriller “Pleading Guilty” is also in the running, as is the con man drama “Midland” (although that drama’s dark themes may be more suitable for FX, some have suggested).

CW is looking at a maximum of three drama pickups. One of those slots is sure to go to “Nikita,” the redo of “La Femme Nikita.” The two other heatseekers are “Betwixt,” a fantasy vehicle about changelings tasked with saving humans, and “Hellcats,” which is seen as the CW’s stab at “Glee” but with cheerleaders.

(Michael Schneider contributed to this report.)

More Scene

  • Taron Egerton Elton John Rocketman Live

    Elton John and Taron Egerton Duet at 'Rocketman' Awards Season Event at the Greek Theatre

    “Rocketman” has officially launched into awards season. Paramount hosted a screening of the film with a live-performance of the score by the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra and a headlining performance by Elton John and the film’s star Taron Egerton. John and Egerton — who is in contention for best actor for his portrayal of the singer [...]

  • Hailee Steinfeld Dickinson Premiere

    Hailee Steinfeld, Jane Krakowski on What Modern Women Can Learn From Emily Dickinson

    Emily Dickinson lived in the 1800s, but if you ask the team behind Apple TV Plus’ upcoming series, “Dickinson,” her story is more current than ever. Hailee Steinfeld stars in the the modern-day retelling of the poet’s young life. The actress — who makes her first full-time foray into television with the role and also [...]

  • Don Cheadle

    ACLU Bill of Rights Gala to Honor Don Cheadle, Feature Appearances by Selena Gomez, Regina Hall

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California will honor “Avengers: Endgame” and “Black Monday” star Don Cheadle at the organization’s annual Bill of Rights dinner on Nov. 17 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Cheadle will be recognized for his activist work as an advocate for racial and gender equality, immigration reform, reproductive and LGBTQ [...]

  • Helen Mirren attends the LA Premiere

    Why Helen Mirren Considers Catherine the Great to Be 'Superhuman'

    It’s no secret that Dame Helen Mirren has a knack for nailing regal roles. Following her Oscar-winning on-screen reign as Queen Elizabeth II back in 2006, the thespian brings yet another powerful ruler to life in HBO’s limited mini-series “Catherine the Great.” Just as she does on the small screen as Russian Empress Catherine II, [...]

  • Taika Waititi Jojo Rabbit Premiere

    Why Director Taika Waititi Decided to Play Adolf Hitler in 'Jojo Rabbit'

    “Fox Searchlight blackmailed me into doing it,” Taika Waititi told Variety of playing Adolf Hilter in “Jojo Rabbit” at the film’s premiere at American Legion Post 43 on Tuesday night in Hollywood. Staying mum when asked which other actors had been on his wish list to play the role, Waititi explained why he eventually decided [...]

  • Jessica Biel Limetown Premiere

    Why 'Limetown' Star & Producer Jessica Biel Thought the Show Was Based on a True Story

    In a world of increasingly outlandish headlines, the story behind “Limetown” — in which an entire community in rural Tennessee disappears overnight — seems plausible. Even Jessica Biel, who executive produces and stars in the Facebook Watch television adaptation of the hit 2015 podcast, was initially convinced that it was real. “I just thought I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content