We are smack dab in the heart of the American television industry’s development season, which is an incredibly important time to writers, producers, production companies, and studios in Hollywood. To the rest of us, though, this mostly means hearing stories about shows being picked up that we’ll never hear about again. If someone notable is mentioned in these stories it’ll make headlines, like a couple of weeks ago when Tina Fey landed a pilot order at NBC and then a full series order at Fox. Otherwise, it’s an endless parade of promising ideas which we may never hear about again.
There has been a ton of activity in this area over just the past couple of days, so much so that one more story came out just in the time it took me to write this introduction. There are even a couple of shows which have received orders for actual pilots meaning they’ll at least get past the script stage. However, something like 80-90% of TV show pilots an individual network orders during development season are never picked up to series. It’s brutal out there. The only show on this list we are all guaranteed to see for sure is one Hulu gave a 10-episode order.
Here’s what has gone down, with all links and quotes from The Hollywood Reporter:
Joshua Jackson Has Been Cast in a New Showtime Series Entitled The Affair
Yes, it is nice to see Pacey from Dawson’s Creek getting work, but after seeing Jackson’s work on Fringe I think he has successfully left behind Pacey for good. His new show, The Affair, is from the same people who did HBO’s In Treatment. Unlike In Treatment, hopefully The Affair won’t feature main characters who psychoanalyze every little thing the other person says and spend entire seasons analyzing the deeper meaning of someone having bought a cappuccino machine for them (I kid, I kid, I actually love In Treatment). Instead, The Affair will center around two married couples (Joshua Jackson and Ruth Wilson/Dominic West and Maura Tierney) on Long Island, and the affair that unites the two couples. Jackson’s character is said to be “a hard-edged cowboy who manages a ranch.” Am I the only one who kind of giggles at the thought of Jackson wearing a cowboy hat, even after loving him on Fringe?
Networks Purchasing a Show They’ve Been Pitched
It is sometimes surprising how many actors are actually multi hypenates: actor, writer, producer, director, etc. Case in point: Walton Goggins, most known for playing Boyd Crowder on FX’s Justified, is also an Academy Award winning producer (his 2001 short film The Accountant won best live-action short film). He has teamed up with a writer from his old FX show The Shield to develop a cop drama called Gringo at Fox. The premise involves an American cop moving to Mexico with his Mexican wife, and don’t you know it they end up in some serious trouble with the drug cartels.
NBC is in The Voice business. They have to be. It’s their best performer. So, they threw one of the judges on the show, Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine a bone and gave him a 1-year production deal following a similar deal they had done a year prior with the more popular and now ex-judge Cee Lo Green. Levine has given them a semi-autobiographical pitch for a single-camera sitcom based upon his own personal experience with Community co-writer Gene Hong when the two were younger, living together as roommates, and struggling to make it in Hollywood. Hong is on board to write the script and produce. Now, if only they could work in some kind of rotating chair gag.
Jay Baruchel was last seen as himself in this summer’s This is The End, and that tale of actors placed in a strange situation apparently stuck with him. ABC has ordered a sitcom from Baruchel and his writing partner which features a premise in which a successful Hollywood actor returns home to Virginia, buys a house two blocks away from his mother, and invites his two childhood friends to live with him in his new house. Find out what happens when this Hollywood actor stops being polite and his childhood friends start getting real. Baruchel is not attached to actually star in the show though.
Network Ordering a Pilot of a Show
NBC Buys Supernatural Drama About Modern Day Immaculate Conception
It’s called Conception, and will be about “a modern-day immaculate conception on a much larger scale. It follows those few children who survived and how they’re destined to change the world.” NBC made a put-pilot commitment which means they will produce a pilot, and if they do not at least air the pilot (even if they do not pick it up for a half or full season order) they have to pay a crap-ton of money to the production company as a penalty fee.
It’s been a while since Chris Carter has had a show on TV, and that technically hasn’t changed with this news. However, he has a post-apocalyptic drama called The After he’s been pitching around Hollywood since October of last year. He finally found a buyer in Amazon, who has ordered a pilot. The show takes places immediately in the aftermath of the apocalypse. Outside of that, it’s a bit of a mystery.
You know, actually, when you just look at the premise of 12 Monkeys it actually kind of makes sense why SyFy is attempting to adapt it into a TV show: “a convicted criminal in a post-apocalyptic future where the Earth’s population is forced to live underground after a deadly virus. In a bid to earn a pardon, Cole uses the imperfect science of time travel to help collect information on the virus released by the Army of the Twelve Monkeys.” Considering the time travel concept of the Canadian import show Continuum that SyFy broadcasts, 12 Monkeys makes total sense. However, it’s just that the Terry Gilliam film upon which it will be based is so, well, Terry Gilliam, i.e., strange and unnerving. It’s not clear how close the tone and/or look of the TV show will adhere to the film. Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett, both from Nikita and Terra Nova, will write the script for the pilot. SyFy is pushing heavily into original scripted programming to go along with its successful show Defiance and forthcoming Helix.
Is there something the wives or significant others of some of the producers in Hollywood should know about around now? Not only does Showtime have its marital infidelity show The Affair but HBO already has a marital infidelity show in the works from Ryan Murphy. Now, so does, of all places, USA, which has ordered a pilot based upon a pitch from former Suits showrunner Sean Jablonski. His untitled show will revolve around an investment banker who discovers his wife has been having an affair with a male escort, but rather than seek out the escort to beat him up the husband will actually learn through him “a unique perspective on his life and what motivates women.”
It was actually a shock to me when I looked at the IMDB page for The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and saw that John Francis Daley was the listed screenwriter. Wait, isn’t he the psychiatrist on Bones, and the adorable younger brother to Linda Cardellini’s character in the fan-dam-tastic Freaks & Geeks? Yep on both accounts. However, just like Seth Rogen, Jason Segal, and Jay Baruchel to have emerged from the Judd Apatow shows Freaks & Geeks and Undeclared Daley is a writer-producer to go alongside his acting. Along with his writing partner Jonathan Goldstein, Daley has written the screenplays for Horrible Bosses (and its in-development sequel), Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, a National Lampoons Vacation reboot, and Of All Things with Steve Carell. On top of all that, he and Goldstein have received a put-pilot order for a single-camera sitcom called Punching Out, about a group of 30-somethings who hate their jobs so go back to working at the mall. Daley will apparently keep working in front of the screen on Bones, but he and his writing partner are turning into quite the writer-producers.
Amazon is pushing heavily into developing original content, though they seem to be leaning heavier toward kids shows. Of the 5 shows they ordered to full series earlier this year, 3 were kids shows, and they’ve since ordered 5 kids show pilots and now a sixth. This new pilot they’ve ordered, entitled Maker Shake Agency, will follow ” the exploits of 13-year-old inventor Angus Wolfe, aka ‘Wolfie,’ and his two best friends and fellow ‘makers,’ Jo and Merle, in Akron, Ohio.” The three kids will solve clients problems by making new inventions each week. At some point down the road, Amazon will likely again unleash all of their pilots and ask us to vote on them to help decide which get full series orders.
Similar to SyFy’s heavy involvement in the development of original scripted programming, FX has many shows in development at the moment to help fill programming for when the network splinters into multiple networks (FX, FXX, FXM). Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro is adapting his vampire trilogy of novels The Strain for a pilot at FX. However, that might no longer be the highest profile project in the works. That honor might go to Paul Giamatti, who will star in Hoke, an hour-long drama adapted from a series of Charles Willeford novels (FX is quick to point out how similar those novels are to the work of Elmore Leonard). The show’s premise will involve Giamatti playing a possibly insane detective named Hoke Moseley in circa 1985 Miami. The Elmore Leonard comparisons aren’t thrown around willy-nilly though as the project is being executive produced by the same guy who wrote the screenplays for Get Shorty and Out of Sight, two of the all time Leonard adaptations on film.
Network Ordering a Full Season of a Show
Amazon and Hulu are at least trying, each of them with multiple original projects in the works even with House of Cards, Arrested Development, and Orange is the New Black clearly putting Netflix way out in front of both of them at the moment in that area. Perhaps sensing the need to move the development process along, Hulu has ordered a full season of 10 episodes of a half-hour supernatural comedy from two guys who used to work on the FX show Wilfred. Unfortunately, it’s not really clear what the premise of the show is other than “funny” and “supernatural.” Well, whatever it is it will air exclusively on Hulu and Hulu Plus in America next year, although Lionsgate will be shopping it around to actual networks in the international market.
Which of these shows sounds the most promising to you and thus will crush you the most down the road when the network stupidly passes on them and they go to the great TV pilot cloud in the sky?