TV Pilot Buzz: 'Nashville,' 'Arrow,' Mindy Kaling, '1600 Penn,' 'Elementary' Among Front-Runners
With less than two weeks to go until the broadcast networks roll out their plans for the 2012-13 television season, it's crunch time for the more than 80 pilots bidding for a slot on the fall (and midseason) schedule.
Projects from established showrunners including Shawn Ryan, Greg Berlanti, Ryan Murphy, Shonda Rhimes and Marc Cherry are screening this week for network executives, who hope that stars like Connie Britton, Bill Pullman, Mindy Kaling and Dennis Quaid turn enough heads to gain a place in primetime.
Here are a collection of the comedies and dramas gaining steam heading in to crunch time. Worth noting: While early buzz can be a good indicator, it doesn't always translate into a series order.
Soapy drama Nashville, starring Friday Night Lights' Connie Britton as a country music star at her peak teamed with a rising star (Heroes' Hayden Panettiere) from Thelma and Louise scribe Callie Khouri, is considered a safe bet at the Disney-owned network. … Marc Cherry's Devious Maids, an adaptation of the Mexican format with Susan Lucci attached, has heat heading into the final days of decision making. .... Fashion soap Americana, with Anthony LaPaglia and from North Country writer Michael Seitzman, is gaining steam, with internal conversations about it being "on brand" for the female-skewing network. Meanwhile, Rhada Mitchell's crime syndicate adaptation Penoza, which has Twilight's Melissa Rosenberg on board as a writer/exec producer, and Shawn Ryan's island-set military drama Last Resort, starring Scott Speedman, are also in serious contention, though one source suggests departing from ABC's soapy, female core with this season's The River may have given Paul Lee's camp cold feet about veering off again. Meanwhile, Shonda Rhimes' period hotel drama Gilded Lilys, from Gossip Girl scribe KJ Steinberg and starring Torchwood's John Barrowman, and spooky drama 666 Park Ave., starring Lost's Terry O'Quinn, have not been ruled out.
Among the network's comedy offerings, which several sources have labeled disappointing, country-themed multicamera effort Malibu Country starring Reba McEntire screened Wednesday to positive buzz, with Claudia Lonow's How to Live With Your Parents, Kyle Bornheimer starrer Red Van Man, Judy Greer's American Judy, Kal Penn's Prairie Dogs and multicam Only Fools and Horses all in contention.
The first network to green-light a pilot to series with its Matthew Perry comedy Go On, the struggling network already has a jump on the pack and has two more half-hour efforts currently staffing up. Ryan Murphy and Ali Adler's blended family comedy The New Normal and Anne Heche starrer Save Me have both begun looking for writers, the latter of which screened through the roof. … White House comedy 1600 Penn, created by and co-starring Book of Mormon's Josh Gad, with Bill Pullman as the leader of the free world, is considered a sure thing though it has yet to begin staffing. … Also testing well was the network's Justin Kirk House-like veterinarian single-camera comedy Animal Kingdom. … Greg Daniels' adaptation of Brit series Friday Night Dinner, despite mixed feedback, is considered to have a shot because of The Office creator's value to the network. … Meanwhile, Jimmy Fallon's multicam effort Guys With Kids has internal heat, with his early involvement giving execs added confidence.
On the drama side, there's heavy interest surrounding JJ Abrams' Revolution. ... Dick Wolf drama Chicago Fire, starring The Vampire Diaries' Taylor Kinney is being described as ER at a fire station with real "broadcast potential." … The network's Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde effort Do No Harm, starring Steven Pasquale and Phylicia Rashad, looks to have heat. … Meanwhile, ensemble Western The Frontier is said to have turned out great but the network remains hesitant on the period piece directed and exec produced by Thomas Schlamme. Also still in contention: murder-mystery Notorious and Jason Katims' medical drama County.
With considerable ratings needs and a desire to have more original year-round fare, there's talk of the younger-skewing network picking up at least five new dramas. (CW topper Mark Pedowitz told The Hollywood Reporter that he's holding off on comedies until he's stablized the schedule.) Comic adaptation Arrow, starring Stephen Amell as the DC hero, and The Carrie Diaries with AnnaSophia Robb as a young Carrie Bradshaw, are both considered locks for series orders among the network's eight dramas. … Josh Schwartz crime drama Cult, starring The Vampire Diaries' Matt Davis, has begun staffing, with the prolific producer possibly going 2-for-2 this development season. … The Good Wife's Mamie Gummer is receiving rave reviews for her role on medical drama First Cut, with her performance being described as a mix of Calista Flockhart in Ally McBeal and Ellen Pompeo in Grey's Anatomy. … Hunger Games-like effort The Selection, starring Aimee Teegarden (Friday Night Lights), hasn't impressed everyone and isn't coming off as the slam dunk everyone had hoped for. … With Pedowitz looking to expand the network's original scripted fare beyond fall, Beauty and the Beast -- starring Smallville's Kristin Kreuk in the adaptation of the CBS drama -- could earn a pickup as not all the network's series orders will likely be for fall alone.