Pilot Season Trends: Thirtysomethings, Dysfunction and Adaptations
Season Finale Scheduler: Your Guide to What Ends When
After a deluge of pilot orders that brought the network pilot count to nearly 50 on Tuesday, The Hollywood Reporter took a closer look at what, and who, was faring particularly well thus far this season. Among the trends: more adaptations -- from books, plays or even blogs -- as well as thirtysomething characters, dysfunctional themes and semi-autobiographical story lines.
What’s Old Is New Again
In a bid for built-in brand equity and proven plot lines, the latest crop of pilots again is heavy on adaptations. At least 15 efforts -- or nearly a third of those pilots already ordered -- have their roots in books (see Bill Lawrence’s I Suck at Girls effort at Fox), movies (CBS’ Beverly Hills Cop from Shawn Ryan), plays (NBC’s Assistance from Bachelorette's Leslye Headland), graphic novels (NBC’s The Sixth Gun from Lost’s Carlton Cuse) and overseas series (CBS’ Backstrom from Bones’ Hart Hanson). And that doesn’t include the two spinoffs -- from NCIS: LA and The Vampire Diaries) that are in contention at CBS and the CW, respectively.
All About Me
As it was during development season, semi-autobiographical fare again is garnering interest, with at least four projects in contention this pilot season. Among those who have taken "write what you know" to heart: Jim Gaffigan, whose CBS comedy pilot revolves around the stand-up comic as a happily married and harried New York City father of five -- as he is in real life, and Adam F. Goldberg, whose ABC comedy How the Hell Am I Normal? is billed as a dysfunctional Wonder Years set in the simpler times of the 1980s and inspired by his childhood. NBC’s untitled DJ Nash effort, about a son who idolizes his blind father, is bemused by his mother’s newfound adolescence and watches his family come closer together postdivorce, is said to be based loosely on his life, too. The same can be said for NBC’s semi-autobiographical Joe, Joe & Jane from Joe Port and Joe Wiseman, which centers on a conflict-avoidant children's book author caught in an ongoing tug of war between two needy, flawed people: his wife and his co-author/best friend.
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Pilot Season Powerhouses
Former William Morris TV agent-turned-prolific producer Aaron Kaplan has landed three pilot orders already this season: the comedy Pulling at CBS, Friends With Better Lives at CBS and The Gates at NBC. Raising Hope showrunner Greg Garcia landed two half-hour pilots at CBS on the same day; both are set up at his new studio home, CBS Television Studios. Bad Teachers' Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg have two pilots at ABC: Pulling and Trophy Wife, about a reformed party girl who finds herself with an instant family when she falls in love with a man who has three manipulative children and two judgmental ex-wives. Will Gluck's Olive Bridge nabbed a pilot order for The McCarthys at CBS; it joins his Michael J. Fox comedy, which garnered a straight-to-series full-season order at NBC. Rescue Me's Peter Tolan also has two pilots in contention -- one at Fox (Greg Kinnear starrer Rake) and the other at CBS (the untitled Gaffigan comedy). And while Ted scribes Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild and Seth MacFarlane have only one project in Dad, but their comedy entry got a six-episode straight-to-series order at Fox.