LA Screenings’ Pick-Up List


ABC Studios is selling a diverse slate of new hours as well as a trio of unique comedies.

On the drama side, “Marvel’s Agent Carter” and “The Whispers” may hold the most global appeal, but others have potential as well.

“Agent Carter,” the second series from Marvel in the last two years, follows Peggy Carter in 1946 as she balances her administrative work with embarking on secret missions for the covert SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve). It should hold more appeal for women than last year’s “Agents of SHIELD.”

In “Whispers,” aliens have invaded Earth by using our most unlikely resource to achieve world domination — our children. As the kids unwittingly help these unseen enemies, the clock counts down in a race to save humanity.

The unconventional and, at times, comedic “Red Band Society,” is based on an acclaimed Spanish series and comes from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television. It follows a group of teenagers who bond when they meet in a pediatric ward, and stars Octavia Spencer.

Viola Davis starrer “How to Get Away With Murder” should appeal to fans of creator Shonda Rhimes’ other series, including “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal.” Davis plays a seductive law professor who gets entangled with four students from her class following a murder.

There are also a couple of intriguing crime dramas, including “American Crime,” in which a violent crime shocks a community and stirs up racial tensions.

In “Secrets and Lies,” Ryan Phillippe goes from Good Samaritan to murder suspect when he discovers the body of his neighbor’s young son in the woods.

In comedy, the choice for the year’s most original show has to be “Galavant,” (pictured above) a musical comedy fairy tale of epic proportions, in which its dashing hero tries to reclaim the love of his life from the evil king.

There’s also “Black-ish,” in which Anthony Anderson plays a father who sets out to establish a cultural identity for his family while living in the suburbs. It earned the plum post-“Modern Family” timeslot Stateside.

And in “Manhattan Love Story,” the audience can hear the unfiltered thoughts of a young couple as they start dating.

— Rick Kissell

CBS Studios Intl.

Familiar titles headline CBS Studios’ lineup for the L.A. screenings. These are powerful selling tools certain to attract international audiences.

“NCIS,” one of the most-watched shows around the world, is spawning another spinoff, “NCIS: New Orleans,” helmed by series star Mark Harmon and executive producer Gary Glasberg. Two episodes serving as back door pilots have already established the characters, including Scott Bakula (“Quantum Leap”), who plays the head of the Louisiana field office.

CBS is saving its second spinoff for midseason, but interest is still high in “CSI: Cyber,” (pictured above) the fourth spinoff of the series’ formidable mothership, which is going into its 15th season. The first “CSI” series with a female lead, “Cyber” marks “Medium” star Patricia Arquette’s return to series TV, as an agent who solves online crimes that play out in the real world.

Audiences will welcome sitcom favorite Matthew Perry back to the screen in a reboot of the Neil Simon classic “The Odd Couple,” which he’ll also executive produce, alongside Thomas Lennon (“Sean Saves the World”) as his mismatched roommate.

Morgan Freeman is stepping behind the camera as executive producer of “Madam Secretary,” alongside Barbara Hall (“Judging Amy”), about a maverick female secretary of state trying to balance the demands of both her professional and personal life. Tea Leoni steps into the leading role, alongside Tim Daly and Bebe Neuwirth.

There’s already a built-in audience for CW’s “Jane the Virgin,” which has been adapted from a Venezuelan telenovela about a religious young Latina who gets artificially inseminated.
The last two shows on the lineup take a sci-fi bent: “Scorpion,” from the producing team of Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, about an eccentric genius who runs an international network of super geniuses as the last line of defense against the complex threats of the modern age; and “The Messengers” takes an apocalyptic turn, when a group of strangers die after a mysterious object crashes to earth — then they awaken to learn they’ve been deemed responsible for preventing an apocalypse.

— Debra Birnbaum

20th Century Fox Television

It’s a busy year for 20th Century Fox Television. “Hieroglyph” is perhaps its biggest swing. Set in the world of ancient Egypt, the action-adventure series turns on a master thief who is plucked from prison to track down the person who stole a dangerous scroll from Egypt.

Lee Daniels and Danny Strong have teamed for the sexy and sudsy “Empire,” (pictured above) about the head of a music empire whose three sons and ex-wife all battle for his throne when the patriarch is diagnosed with a terminal disease. “Backstrom” is a comic crime procedural in which Rainn Wilson (“The Office”) plays an irascible (but brilliant) detective who is brought back from exile to run the special crimes unit in Portland.

Cristela Alonzo toplines “Cristela,” in which a young Latina’s pursuit of success is more ambitious than her traditional Mexican-American family deems appropriate. And half-hour comedy “Fresh Off the Boat” tells the story of a young boy and his immigrant parents who get culture shock when moving to Orlando.

The studio behind “Family Guy” is introducing the Seth MacFarlane-animated comedy “Bordertown,” which takes a satirical look at cultural shifts in America.

Four relationship-phobic thirtysomethings are thrust into one another’s lives in a Queens, N.Y., townhouse in “Weird Loners.”

And then there’s “The Last Man on Earth,” written by and starring Will Forte. Set in 2022, it portrays the adventures of the last man on earth.

— Rick Kissell

Warner Bros.

Dc entertainment has borne four action-packed dramas on Warner Bros.’ programming slate: NBC’s “Constantine” (pictured above) stars Matt Ryan as John Constantine, a con man and occult expert of dubious moral standards doing battle with forces of evil. Donal Logue and Ben McKenzie team up in the much-hyped “Gotham,” which chonicles the backstory of some of the greatest superheroes and supervillains that ever lived. “iZombie,” directed by Rob Thomas, and Greg Berlanti’s “The Flash” are also both based on DC Comics series.

On the sunnier side, exec producer Ellen DeGeneres paints a comic portrait of modern family life in “One Big Happy.” NBC picked up the half-hour comedy starring Elisha Cuthbert (“Happy Endings”) as a type-A lesbian who becomes pregnant, via IVF, with her male best friend’s baby just as he falls in love with and marries a free-spirited Brit. Charlestown, Mass., will serve as the backdrop in “Buzzy’s” a TBS half-hour comedy from “Will & Grace” creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick. ABC’s single-camera comedy “Selfie,” is inspired by “My Fair Lady,” and NBC snapped up “A to Z,” a comedy that excavates modern love by way of a young couple played by Ben Feldman and Cristin Milioti. In the overwrought parenting category, “Mysteries of Laura” casts Debra Messing as a hard-working NYC detective balancing motherhood with police duties.

CBS picked up Kevin Williamson’s drama “Stalker” while Matt Miller’s drama pilot “Forever,” starring Judd Hirsh, has landed at ABC.

— Malina Saval


Terry Gilliam’s 1995 classic “12 Monkeys” gets the royal TV treatment in a one-hour drama pickup by Syfy. Supernatural drama “Dominion” also landed at Syfy.

Israel is a notable presence in Peacock pick-ups, with one-hour drama “Allegiance,” based on the successful Israeli format “The Gordin Cell,” finding a home on NBC. “Dig,” an original one-hour drama about an FBI detective based in Jerusalem from “Homeland” co-creator Gideon Raff, landed at USA Network.

The drama category includes four new NBC series: “State of Affairs” (pictured above) stars Katherine Heigl as a CIA analyst attempting to balance her personal and private life; “Emerald City” is a dark retelling of the OZ story; “Heroes Reborn,” from Tim Kring, is a reboot of the “Heroes” series; and “Odyssey” is an edgy thriller. A lighter drama, “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce,” based on the best-selling book series by Vicki Iovine, comes to Bravo. Bravo also picked up “Odd Mom Out,” a comedy based on the life of popular NYC author Jill Kargman.

The fresh Tina Fey and Robert Carlock exec produced NBC comedy “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” centers on a survivor of a cult (Ellie Kemper) who attempts to start life anew in New York City, while USA Network addition “Satisfaction” takes a comic look at the rocky marriage of an investment banker and his wife.

Buzzy Fox series “Mulaney” focuses on comedian John Mulaney and comedies “Bad Judge,” “Mission Control,” and “Mr. Robinson,” have all been picked up by NBC.

— Malina Saval

Sony Pictures TV

With Emmy buzz still swirling around “Breaking Bad,” which aired its series finale back in September, Sony will be serving up the prequel “Better Call Saul” for AMC, focusing on the exploits of lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) long before he ever met Walter White.

“Better Call Saul” executive producer Vince Gilligan is helming another high-profile drama, “Battle Creek,” alongside David Shore. “Creek,” which CBS ordered straight to series for a 13-episode run, stars Josh Duhamel and Dean Winter as battling detectives in Michigan.

Social media has already stirred up a firestorm about Starz’s “Outlander,” based on the international bestselling series of novels by Diana Gabaldon about a married nurse from 1945 who suddenly finds herself transplanted 200 years in the past. Every sneak peek photo and video of the cast has garnered millions of hits.

Sony will also be offering up a new drama from the producers behind “Damages” — Todd Kessler, Daniel Zelman, and Glenn Kessler — which will debut on Netflix. The as-yet-untitled psychological thriller, starring Kyle Chandler and Sissy Spacek, promises many twists and turns.

Comedies fill out Sony’s screenings slate, including ABC’s “Marry Me,” from the creators of “Happy Endings,” starring Casey Wilson as a newly engaged woman; TBS’ “Your Family or Mine” about a couple faced with difficult in-laws; and CBS’ “The McCarthys,” (pictured above) which follows the gay son of a sports-crazed Boston family.

— Debra Birnbaum

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