With the increasing un-certainty, confusion, and unpredictability surrounding the 2019 edition of the L.A. Screenings, it’s a comfort to take stock of what actually is known.
It’s a definite that Twentieth Cen-tury Fox TV Distribution won’t be screening during the studios portion, to be held May 16-23.
It’s also known that Disney Media Distribution won’t be throwing its traditional Sunday Upfronts Party, and that Paramount and CBSSI will be sharing the Paramount Theater on the Paramount Studios lot.
Also known is the fact that Sony Pictures will host general screenings on a single day (May 21) and, (as was reported by one European buyer), will be giving a party that evening. Paramount also plans to throw a party that same night, and on the evening of May 22, will host a Rocketman screening event on its studio’s lot. This year, Paramount will come back with a four-day screenings schedule.
Then, there is Viacom, which will hold a breakfast screenings at the InterContinental Hotel on Friday, May 17, and Lionsgate, which plans to forgo its own general screenings in favor of a party on Sunday, May 19.
Finally, it is known that this year’s Screenings will see fewer pilots than recent editions. And, to add to the confusion, there is the epic game of musical chairs being played by TV network programming executives: Showtime’s David Nevins is going to CBS, ABC’s Channing Dungey is moving to Netflix, AMC’s Charlie Collier is now at FOX, and Dana Walden is moving from FOX to Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment.
Plus, creative talents such as Kenya Barris (Black-ish), Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy), and Ryan Murphy (Glee) have exited traditional television for the freedom that Netflix and other SVoD services offer. For example, Amazon has contracted overall deals with Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls), and Jill Soloway (Transparent); Hulu has engaged Handmaid’s Tale showrunner Bruce Miller; and Apple has inked a deal with Bates Motel co-creator Kerry Ehrin.
On the plus side, the limited creativity offered by traditional television often is compensated by often unlimited residuals — something that streaming media exclusivity doesn’t offer.
After the above headlines, let’s move to the in-depth reports. Before MIP-TV, just 63 pilots had been ordered for the 2019-2020 season by the major TV networks. At the same time last year, 74 had already been commissioned. However, by the time the networks went to the broadcast Upfronts in New York City in May, the number had swelled to 110. So it is still possible for the number to once again increase prior to the upcoming Upfronts, which will be held May 13-16.
So far ABC has ordered 16 pilots: nine dramas and seven comedies. This compares to 22 pilots ordered by MIP-TV 2018. With six fewer pilots than last year at this time, it is experiencing the largest drop-off of the major TV networks.
CBS has ordered 15 pilots: eight dramas and seven comedies — three less than last year at this time.
With 12 pilots commissioned — six dramas and six comedies — the new FOX has actually increased its order by one from last year.
NBC is the only network that has kept its pilot order steady. It has 14 total, equally divided between dramas and comedies, just like last year.
The CW has six pilots — all dramas. It had nine last year.
The split between dramas and comedies is still about 60 percent dramas, and 40 percent comedies, just like last year.
Even though the ABC network has fewer pilots than it did by last year’s MIP-TV, its studios — Disney and Twentieth Century Fox — have received combined orders for 24 pilots, followed by CBS and Universal with 11 each, Warner Bros. with nine, Sony Pictures with six, and eOne and Lionsgate with one each.
In compiling this list, we considered the primary studio as the main supplier, but this could change as each studio negotiates the back-end with co-producers and the commissioning networks. In addition, many pilots will surely be dropped from networks’ new line-ups before the Upfronts, and studios could add pilots produced for premium services, SVoD (for some territories), and cable networks at the L.A. Screenings.
(By staff writers)
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