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From ‘Batwoman’ to ‘Evil,’ a Look at Pilot Season’s Buzziest Projects

With the WGA-ATA war fully raging, diversity discussions at the forefront of the industry and numerous new rivals entering the original-content game, there is arguably more pressure than ever on the broadcast networks to make the right call when it comes to pilot pickups.

Here’s what Variety’s insiders are saying about this season’s offerings.

ABC

On the comedy front, three female-led pilots look to charge ahead at ABC.

An untitled Hannah Simone project has enjoyed support within ABC from the start. Simone’s “Greatest American Hero” pilot at ABC last year was ultimately passed over, but she still has many supporters at the network.

Another hot prospect comes from writer Jessica Gao, fresh off an Emmy win for her work on “Rick and Morty.” Hopes for the untitled pilot are bolstered not only by Gao’s recent success but also by Brian Grazer serving as exec producer. Also attached: Jude Weng, the first Asian American woman to direct a half-hour broadcast network pilot.

“Woman Up,” which hails from “Life in Pieces” star Zoe Lister-Jones, has been receiving nothing but positive buzz from the get-go and is looking good for a pickup.

On the drama side, “The Baker and the Beauty” is being eyed for a slot. Likewise “The Hypnotist’s Love Story,” based on a book by “Big Little Lies” author Liane Moriarty and spearheaded by star and exec producer Heather Graham.

New iterations of “NYPD Blue” and “New York Undercover” have also been high on ABC’s list since they were announced.

CBS

Comedy “Carol’s Second Act,” the Patricia Heaton project that got a series commitment when it was first announced, is considered a lock for a pickup. Also looking like solid bets to go series: “To Whom It May Concern,” which stars Michael Angarano and Briga Heelan, and Chuck Lorre’s “Bob Hearts Abishola.” 

Drama-wise, “Evil” from Robert and Michelle King is said to be a standout this year. Sources say the Kings worked out a deal where they may not have to do a full 22-episode season, which helped lure them back to broadcast. They currently have “The Good Fight” on CBS All Access and are preparing the legal drama “Your Honor” at Showtime.

Another strong CBS contender is “FBI: Most Wanted,” a spinoff of “FBI.” The network is looking to leverage the Dick Wolf franchise formula that’s spawned juggernauts like “Law & Order” and the “Chicago” series at NBC.

CBS is also apparently high on getting Edie Falco on the air. Her pilot “Tommy” — which boasts Paul Attanasio as writer and executive producer — looks to be a likely pickup.

Sources say that “Surveillance,” a drama starring Sophia Bush, tested “through the roof,” but CBS execs are reportedly cool to the show.

FOX

Fox gave straight-to-series orders for next season to animated comedies “Bless the Harts” and “Duncanville.” The cast of the former includes Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, while the latter features Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones and Wiz Khalifa.

Among Fox’s hot drama pilots are “Deputy,” which stars Stephen Dorff, fresh off his turn on “True Detective”; “Prodigal Son,” with Michael Sheen and Tom Payne attached; and “Filthy Rich,” which has received a good amount of praise internally.

A big question mark is the untitled Annie Weisman-Jason Katims drama, based on Australian series “Sisters.” One source said the show is looking solid for a pickup, while another said its first cut came in below expectations.

NBC 

NBC is said to be happy with the way drama “Council of Dads” has arrived. There’s also love for “Bluff City Law,” featuring NBC favorite Jimmy Smits.

“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” which stars Jane Levy, has enjoyed the network’s support from early days, and that hasn’t changed as the pilot process has gone on.

Comedy “The Kenan Show,” led by Kenan Thompson, is looking strong. There’s plenty of love for Thompson at NBC given his 16-year “SNL” tenure, not to mention that Lorne Michaels serves as EP on “Kenan” and Chris Rock directs the pilot.

THE CW

“Batwoman,” starring Ruby Rose and hailing from super-producer Greg Berlanti, has been considered a lock since it was first announced.

The network is also keen on “Riverdale” spinoff “Katy Keene.” The star power of Lucy Hale and the “Riverdale” connection should be enough to carry this one to series. 

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