Pilot season marches on! All this week we're going to be running Pilot Buzz!, a look at each network and their upcoming offerings. Yesterday we began our Pilot Buzz series with a look at each of the upcoming pilots coming from ABC. Here's how it works: I’ll be categorizing each network’s upcoming pilots under three headings: “Eagerly Anticipating,” “Cautiously Optimistic” and “Not Expecting Much.” After that, each of you weigh in and let us know in the comments if you agree with my assessment of the buzz for each project, or if you think I'm way off base. We're at the speculation-stage with these pilots, but certain casts and writers give us reason to be very excited for what is to come!
Let's kick things off today with that excitement at the maximum, with the projects in our "Eagerly Anticipating" category. The first such project has a proven showrunner and writer at the helm, a beautiful leading lady and a feature film star returning to television after a thirty-year hiatus: I'm talking about the exciting new comedy pilot 'Crazy Ones.'
Judging from the Logline alone, there isn't a whole lot to get excited about when it comes to 'Crazy Ones.' All that has been released about the plot is "a brilliant advertising executive works alongside his daughter." That's not very much to go on. So why are we excited? Well for starters, it's being written and executive produced by David E. Kelley. What's so exciting about Kelley's work? Well how about ten Primetime Emmys? Kelley has written a litany of smash-hit shows over the years including 'L.A. Law,' 'Picket Fences,' 'Chicago Hope,' 'Ally McBeal,' 'The Practice,' 'Boston Public,' 'Boston Legal' and more recently 'Harry's Law.' Kelley is a starmaker, having catapulted Calista Flockhart to stardom with 'Ally McBeal' and garnering his three leads in 'Boston Legal' (James Spader, William Shatner, Candice Bergen) multiple awards and nominations. The buzz around any new Kelley project already reaches fever-pitch before casting is even considered... but in the case of 'Crazy Ones,' the casting only served to intensify that buzz.
This is because none other than Robin Williams, Academy Award winner and star of dozens of feature films, has signed on to play one of the co-leads in 'Crazy Ones.' Should the series get picked up (and I'm betting it will be), Williams will be making his first full-time return to television since the end of 'Mork & Mindy' in 1982. Huge news already--and add to the pile his co-lead, Sarah Michelle Gellar ('Buffy the Vampire Slayer') as Williams' character's daughter. Gellar, who has been acting on television since the age of four, seems a perfect match for Kelley's style of strong female protagonists.
'Crazy Ones' is the total package and is far and away the most intriguing pilot coming out of CBS this season. "Eagerly Anticipating" almost doesn't quite cover a project of this scope!
In keeping with comedies on the top of the CBS pile, we turn our attention now to another feature film star who is trying to make the jump to television with a successful pilot: Rupert Grint in the comedy 'Super Clyde.'
Grint is best known for portraying Ron Weasley in the 'Harry Potter' franchise of feature films; since the end of that series, the red-headed actor has appeared in a number of small-budget character-driven features in effort to avoid fading into memory with the Weasley character. Now aged twenty-five, Grint has outgrown his awkward-stage and has transitioned from nerdy adolescent to handsome leading man. Grint joins 'Super Clyde,' a single-camera format comedy with the following Logline: "A meek, unassuming fast food worker who decides to become a super hero." This project has a lot of positive gossip surrounding the script, which is being described as funny and heart-warming. Also, Grint will be joined by the beloved Stephen Fry in the pilot, who will remain a lead character should 'Super Clyde' be picked up to series.
Grint can be seen next as Cheetah Chrome in the upcoming feature film 'CBGB.'
The next eagerly anticipated comedy on our list comes from a massively-popular stand-up comedian who has been collecting several hilarious roles on various sitcoms for years. 'The Jim Gaffigan Project' is a fictional sitcom based on Jim Gaffigan's actual life, living with his wife and five children in a small, two-bedroom apartment in New York City. Anyone who has seen Gaffigan's comedy knows just how much material the comic has gleaned from being a father of so many kids, so expect those same laughs to be ported over into this pilot.
Gaffigan is also of a dying breed in stand-up comedy: he makes audiences howl with laughter without ever cursing or using any profanity. He shouldn't have to amend his style to fit with a CBS audience, which is a good thing.
Here's a sample of Gaffigan's work shortly after his fourth child was born:
The best part? Gaffigan's wife is going to be played by Mira Sorvino! Can't wait to check out this one.
One more comedy makes the "Anticipated" list--even though it doesn't even have a title yet. An untitled Rob Greenberg project comes with the following Logline: "The series details the exploits of a young man learning the ways of the world from the older and more experienced men in his short-term rental complex." There is already potential from that point, but once you see the collected cast you'll understand the anticipation.
The star Chris Smith will be soliciting advice from the likes of Tony Shalhoub ('Monk'), Jerry O'Connell ('Sliders,' 'Mockingbird Lane') and Kal Penn ('House'). That's an hilarious line-up with proven talent across the board.
Rob Greenberg is writing, directing and producing the pilot, fresh off of the massive success of his series 'How I Met Your Mother.' There are several winning ingrediants here in this project that could get it picked up to series. What's in a name?
Rounding out our "Eagerly Anticipated" list is one drama, joining the ranks of these impressive comedies: 'The Surgeon General.'
The Logline for 'The Surgeon General' reads: "Medical show centered around America’s doctor: the Surgeon General of the United States." Not much to go on, but the pilot is starring the criminally-underrated Jason Isaacs ('Brotherhood'). Isaacs has deserved a chance to shine in the spotlight for years and I've got my fingers crossed that 'The Surgeon General' is his opportunity to do just that. The rest of the cast includes Sean Astin ('The Lord of the Rings' trilogy) and Katherine McNamara, a fresh-faced young actress who has been collecting guest-starring credits on various series.
'The Surgeon General' is being written and executive produced by Samuel Baum, the writer of the hit Tim Roth series 'Lie to Me.' Baum's involvement promises an intelligent show with compelling character interaction: some meat for the talented Isaacs to sink his chops into. Looking forward to it.
Now we move to the second part of our Pilot Buzz list: the pilot projects that have landed in our "Cautiously Optimistic" category. Beginning once again with the comedies...
'Friends with Better Lives' has some of the trappings of a hit sitcom like 'Friends,' however like with any ensemble the success of the project is going to come down to the chemistry between the cast. 'Friends with Better Lives' "revolves around a group of thirtysomething friends who each think the other has it better" and stars James van der Beek ('Don't Trust the B---- in Apt 23') and Zoe Lister Jones ('Whitney'). Brooklyn Decker, Rick Donald, Kevin Connolly, and Majandra Delfino round out the rest of the cast in what appears to be a strong effort to recapture the 1990s 'Friends' magic.
van der Beek has yet to regain the heights of success he found as the eponymous Dawson on 'Dawson's Creek,' however he remains a familiar and likable face; his appearance on 'How I Met Your Mother' as a self-centred Canadian and his willingness to poke fun at himself on 'Don't Trust the B---- in Apt 23' shows that he has what it takes to carry a sitcom like this. So will it all come together?
Next up on the "Cautiously Optimistic" pile is the comedy pilot 'Mom' starring the lovable Anna Faris. Faris proved her comedic chops years ago in 'Scary Movie' and her hilarious role in 'Lost in Translation;' now in 'Mom' Faris joins proven television talents like Allison Janney ('The West Wing') and French Stewart ('Third Rock from the Sun'). The Logline for 'Mom' reads "A newly sober single mom (Faris) tries to pull her life together in Napa Valley." Sounds as though there is an awful lot riding on Faris' ability to make audiences fall in love with her. Personally, I am betting that she is able to pull it off, but the project isn't sure-fire enough to reach the top pile.
A huge help? 'Mom' is written and executive produced by none other than Chuck Lorre, the man behind the massively-popular 'Two and a Half Men.'
Another sitcom with a recognizable face at the helm is 'Jacked Up' starring Patrick Warburton. Warburton has been a staple of sitcom comedy for years however he has been used more often as a supporting character rather than the lead. 'Jacked Up' is about a "beloved, recently retired baseball player who finds that adjusting to retirement isn’t as easy as he thought it’d be." Joining Warburton is the beautiful Missi Pyle ('The Artist') as well as veteran television star Tyne Daly.
Oddly enough, the pilot of 'Jacked Up' is being directed by Fred Savage. There are a lot of talented people involved in this project that could elevate 'Jacked Up' from a run-of-the-mill sitcom effort into something special.
Moving from comedies we're "Cautiously Optimistic" about onto the drama category, we begin with an interesting high-concept project starring a proven feature film actress: Toni Collette.
Collette stars in the pilot 'Hostages' with the following Logline: "A successful surgeon (Toni Collette) living in Washington D.C. is selected to operate on the President of the United States. She is thrust into the middle of a political conspiracy when her family is taken hostage, and it is up to her to save the lives of her husband and children." 'Hostages' is based on an Israeli drama and has interesting source material to draw upon. Joining Collette in 'Hostages' is Tate Donovan ('Damages'), Dylan McDermott ('The Practice') and Quinn Shephard.
So why, with all of this muscle behind the project, is 'Hostages' not in the "Eagerly Anticipating" pile? Because the concept doesn't leave a lot of wiggle-room for the series to proceed beyond the initial story-arc. There is going to have to be some stellar writing behind this project; I hope I am pleasantly surprised.
Joining 'Hostages' is the drama 'The Advocates' starring Mandy Moore. Moore has been seeking a hit television series for years, being attached to several drama and comedy pilots for various networks. Her latest effort 'The Advocates' is described as follows: "A female lawyer and a male ex-con team up as “victim advocates,” going to the very edge of the law to right wrongs and fight for the underdog." Moore's co-lead is Ben McKenzie and much of the success of this project will rely entirely on McKenzie & Moore's interplay and tension.
As it stands, 'The Advocates' feels somewhat tacked-together, however a good legal drama will always find an audience. Will this one be the charm for Moore?
The last title in this pile is a blend of comedy and drama and, like ABC's pilot 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,' this project has a series of feature films acting as prequels to it: CBS has made a sequel pilot to 'Beverly Hills Cop.'
Executive produced by Eddie Murphy, 'Beverly Hills Cop' is about the "Continuation of the movie franchise, centered around Axel Foley’s police officer son (Brandon T. Jackson), who takes down the criminal elements of the rich and famous in Beverly Hills." With a potential appearance by Murphy himself, there is bound to be a lot of buzz around this pilot, but the make-or-break aspect of the series comes down to the fresh-faced star, Brandon T. Jackson. Murphy left some massive shoes to fill when it comes to the trilogy of films; is Jackson up to the challenge?
Kevin Pollak, David Denman, Christine Lahti and Sheila Vand round out the 'Beverly Hills Cop' cast.
That does it for the "Cautiously Optimistic" category! What follows are the projects that landed in our "Not Expecting Much," listen in alphabetical order.
BAD TEACHER (single-camera) STUDIO: Sony Television i/a/w Mosiac TEAM: Hilary Winston (w, ep), Lee Eisenberg & Gene Stupinsky (ep), Sam Hansen & Jimmy Miller (ep), Don Scardino (d), Ari Graynor (p) LOGLINE: A sexy, foul-mouthed divorcee becomes a teacher to find her next husband. Based on the feature film. CAST: Ari Graynor, Kristin Davis, Sara Gilbert, Ryan Hansen, David Alan Grier, Caitlin Kimball, Katie Walder
Once you take away the feature film's vulgarity, what remains?
THE MCCARTHYS (single-camera) STUDIO: Sony TV/Olive Bridge Entertainment TEAM: Will Gluck (ep), Brian Gallivan (w, co-ep), Richie Schwartz (co-ep), Fred Savage (d) LOGLINE: The big-family comedy revolves around an Irish-Catholic, sports-crazed Boston clan and the gay son whose greatest sin is not his sexuality but his desire to spend less time with his family. CAST: Jack McGee, Jacki Weaver, Jake Lacy, Joey McIntyre, Jessica Chaffin, Jimmy Dunn
ANATOMY OF VIOLENCE STUDIO: 20th Century Fox TV/Teakwood Lane TEAM: Howard Gordon (w, ep), Alex Gansa (w, ep), Alex Cary (w, ep), Hugh Fitzpatrick (co-ep), Mark Pellington (d), Wilson (p) LOGLINE: A criminal psychologist with an expertise in sociopaths partners with a young female detective with whom he shares a conflicted past. Inspired by the nonfiction book The Anatomy Of Violence: The Biological Roots Of Crime by Adrian Raine. CAST: Skeet Ulrich, Amber Tamblyn, David Harewood
It is nice to see that Skeet Ulrich remains on the scene.
BACKSTROM STUDIO: 20th TV TEAM: Hart Hanson (w, ep), Leif G.W. Persson (ep), Niclas Salomonsson (ep) LOGLINE: Centers on Evert Backstrom, an overweight, offensive, irascible detective, as he tries and fails to change his self-destructive behavior. Based on the Backstrom books by Leif G.W. Persson. CAST: Rainn Wilson, Mamie Gummer, Dennis Haysbert, Kristoffer Polaha, Beatrice Rosen, Page Kennedy, Thomas Dekker, Camryn Manheim
I've yet to be convinced that Wilson can carry any series, let alone a drama.
INTELLIGENCE STUDIO: ABC Studios TEAM: Michael Seitzman (w, ep), David Semel (d, ep), Tripp Vinson (ep), Rene Echevarria (ep, showrunner) LOGLINE: Focuses on a unit inside U.S. Cyber Command that has been created around one agent with a very special gift — a microchip that has been implanted in his brain that allows him to access the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Based on an unpublished book by John Dixon. CAST: Meghan Ory, Josh Holloway, Marg Helgenberger, Michael Rady, James Martinez, John Billingsley, PJ Byrne
One of the worst concepts I've heard in a long while.
THE ORDAINED STUDIO: CBS TV Studios TEAM: Lisa Takeuchi Cullen (w, co-ep), Rene Balcer (ep, showrunner), Frank Marshall (ep), Larry Shuman (ep), A.B. Fischer (ep), RJ Cutler (d), Robert Zotnowski (co-ep) LOGLINE: The son of a Kennedy-esque family leaves the priesthood and becomes a lawyer to prevent his politician sister from being assassinated. CAST: Charlie Cox, Nestor Serrano, Jorge Garcia, Audra McDonald, Sam Neill, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Hope Davis
How is a priest lawyer going to stop an assassin?
SECOND SIGHT STUDIO: CBS TV Studios TEAM: Michael Cuesta (w, d, ep), Gerald Cuesta (w, co-ep), Carol Mendelsohn (ep), Julie Weitz (ep), Paule Milne (ep), Nick Reed (ep), Phil Goldfine (co-ep) LOGLINE: A gothic psychological thriller about a detective who is suddenly afflicted with an autoimmune virus that causes hallucinations reflective of his subconscious. He discovers that catching the killer depends as much on insight as eyesight. Based on UK series. CAST: Jason Lee, Derek Luke, Christina Cole, Jill Scott, Kim Dickens, Erik Jensen, Madison Moellers
Rivals 'Intelligence' for worst concept this season.
UNDER THE DOME (summer series) STUDIO: CBS TV Studios TEAM: Brian K. Vaughan (w, ep), Neal Baer (ep, showrunner), Niels Arden Oplev (d), Steven Spielberg (ep), Steven King (ep), Stacey Snider (ep), Justin Falvey (ep), Darryl Frank (ep). LOGLINE: The series is set in Chester’s Mill, a small New England town suddenly and inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world by an enormous transparent dome. The town’s inhabitants must deal with surviving the post-apocalyptic conditions while searching for answers to what this barrier is, where it came from and if and when it will go away. CAST: Mike Vogel, Dean Norris, Rachelle Lafevre, Colin Ford, Natalie Martinez, Alex Koch, Britt Robertson, Aisha Hinds
That's your Pilot Buzz for CBS! Check back tomorrow for our look at NBC's upcoming slate!
Jason Lee, dude, you gotta start reading the scripts they send you!
Level 2 (3%) Since: 27/Feb/10
Message Posted On Apr 16th, 2013, 9:47 am
glad to see some name pop up in this article, like Britt Robertson (secret Circle), Josh Holloway (Lost) and Thomas Dekker (Heroes). I thought they were great in there shows.
msd85 (Global Editor)
Level 39 (91%) Points: 17879.2 Since: 07/Jul/10
Message Posted On Apr 16th, 2013, 5:08 am
This new pilot is in what is called "second position" status for Warburton. I'm not sure what piece you read, or where you read it, but "Rules" still has yet to be officially renewed by CBS. If that happens, Warburton would be contractually obligated to stay with Rules and leave this new project Then again, CBS does produce both shows, so they may indeed choose to allow Warburton to appear on both at the same time.
Level 1 (77%) Points: 7.8 Since: 19/Dec/12
Message Posted On Apr 16th, 2013, 4:44 am
I just read a pice about "Rules of Engagement" going for another season but only to see in this article that Patrick Warburton is looking at another project for the next season. So is he going to star in2 shows at the same time or is it possible that one of these articles GOT IT WRONG?
"ROE" looks to continue for another season with a new member as the baby will be born. Will they use this to replace Patrick as well or will he just appear less on screen and be a stay at home Dad????