Pilot season is in full swing, and the U.S. TV networks are busy casting their commissioned pilots. We thought now was the perfect time to take a quick look at some of the projects underway (ahead of our more in-depth report for MIP-TV).
The survivors — meaning those ordered to series — will be unveiled at the Upfronts in New York City with the usual fanfare starting on May 13 and ending May 16.
The L.A. Screenings that follow the Upfronts will start May 16 with Fox for the general screenings and Paramount and Lionsgate for the Latin American contingent. Also for LatAm: Fox on May 17, CBS on May 18, NBCUniversal on May 19, Warner Bros. on May 20, Sony on May 21 and Disney Latin America on May 22.
On May 18, Lionsgate will hold screenings for a mixed group of buyers; HBO will do it on the 19th. Warner Bros. will be from 20-24 as will Disney. The indie screenings will start May 13. The general studio screenings will end May 24.
But back to the pilots. So far, the five networks — CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC and CW — have ordered 95 pilots between them. NBC has ordered the most, with a total of 28 pilots commissioned for the Peacock.
Among the comedy pilots that have been ordered, the vast majority are single-camera.
As usual, there are some big names attached to the projects. Chuck Lorre, producer of Two and a Half Men (and well-known Charlie Sheen nemesis), is behind a multi-camera comedy called Mom, about a newly sober single mom who tries to pull her life back together in Napa Valley. Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Joss Whedon is behind S.H.I.E.L.D., a drama for CBS based on Marvel Comics’ secret intelligence organization (which has appeared in Iron Man, Captain America and more). Conan O’Brien is behind Super Fun Night, a single-camera comedy that revolves around three nerdy female friends on a quest to have a “super fun” night every Friday. (If it sounds familiar, that’s because it was on CBS’s pilot list last year.)
There are also plenty of famous names in front of the camera in 2013-2014 — including Robin Williams, who stars in Crazy Ones, a CBS sitcom pilot from David E. Kelley about a father-daughter advertising team. Jessica Simpson is tied to a pilot presentation for NBC that’s based on her life (and is for now untitled) and Michael J. Fox will star in an ordered-straight-to-series NBC comedy that is inspired by his own story.
In fact, the inspired-by-true-life trend is seen across almost all networks this year. Here’s just a quick sampling of some others: ABC comedy How the Hell Am I Normal?, based on the dysfunctional childhood of writer Adam F. Goldberg; an untitled ABC comedy from John Leguizamo based on his life as a husband and father and fish-out-of-water on the Upper West Side of Manhattan; CBS’s Untitled Jim Gaffigan comedy based on the comedian (and father of five!); Fox sitcom Enlisted, based on writer Kevin Biegel’s life and relationship with his very different siblings; NBC’s Joe, Joe & Jane, a semi-autobiographical tale of an author caught between his needy wife and his needy co-author best friend; an untitled John Mulaney/Lorne Michaels comedy at NBC that’s loosely based on the life of stand-up comic John Mulaney.
And aside from the many “based on a foreign series” pilots — this year they come from Israel, Argentina, England and Australia — there are also pilots based on movies (About A Boy for NBC, Beverly Hills Cop and Bad Teacher for CBS), some based on books (CW’s The Hundred; Fox’s I Suck at Girls and Delirium and NBC’s I Am Victor and Wonderland, a modern-day follow-up to Alice in Wonderland), blogs (Fox’s To My Assistant) and even a play (NBC comedy Assistance).
And of course, there are the spin-offs: NCIS: Red (spin-off of NCIS: LA) and The Originals, a CW spin-off of The Vampire Diaries.
Now we just need to wait until May to see what’s made the cut.