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maandag 28 januari 2013

Drama Pilot Guide 2013/2014

Let's take a look at the dramatic projects that have made it to the pilot stage at the networks.


- Betrayal. A serialized drama based on a Dutch series called Overspel, Betrayal revolves around a beautiful photographer in an unhappy marriage who engages in a torrid affair with a lawyer for a powerful family. When she discovers he is defending a murder suspect who is being prosecuted by her husband, a spiraling series of betrayals threatens cataclysmic results for everyone involved. Former ER showrunner David Zabel will write and executive produce. Without any knowledge of the original Dutch program, this sounds like yet another entry into the one-word-title soapy drama genre that seems to be so popular these days.

- Doubt. House creator David Shore, a lawyer by trade who has written for ABC's The Practice, NBC's Law & Order, and CBS's Family Law, returns to his legal roots with this legal drama about a former cop turned low-rent lawyer. Cunning yet charming, he uses his street smarts to work the system for his clients while battling his own demons and trying to win back his ex-wife. Shore's name has big-time cache because of House, igniting a bidding war between ABC and CBS that the Alphabet network won with a pilot production commitment. It's hard to believe this one won't be given a chance.

- Influence. Following the theme of duality evident in his previous projects, Kyle Killen — the creative mind behind short-lived high-concept dramas Awake and Lone Star — presents Influence, a provocative workplace ensemble that follows the complex relationship between two brothers who run an innovative agency that specializes in using the real science of human motivation and manipulation to solve their clients' problems. One brother is a slick ex-convict, while the other is an expert in human psychology afflicted with bipolar disorder. Not only do the agency's staff use their abilities to help clients, they also use them to pull each other's strings.

- Killer Women. Adapted from the Argentinian series Mujeres Asesinas, this soapy procedural centers on Molly Parker, the only female Texas Ranger. She is described as a "ballsy, beautiful badass" who isn't afraid to ruffle a few feathers to get to the truth. Killer Women is written by Hannah Shakespeare (The Playboy Club) and produced by the triumvirate of Ben Silverman, Martin Campbell, and Sofia Vergara. The last time Silverman collaborated with a successful Latina star on an adaptation of a Latin American show, he and Salma Hayek produced the successful dramedy Ugly Betty, so you know ABC is expecting a similar result.

- The Returned. Based on a novel by Jason Mott due to be published in September, The Returned is a mysterious drama that explores the intriguing scenario of what would happen if the dead family and friends you had mourned and buried suddenly appeared on your doorstep as if not a day had gone by. The logline promises that the lives of the people of Arcadia will be "forever changed when their deceased loved ones, RETURN..." It's even more ominous when you type it in all caps. Aaron Zelman of AMC's The Killing will pen the project, which sounds like AMC's The Walking Dead, only instead of trying to chew your flesh apart, your returned loved ones still complain about how you don't call enough.

- S.H.I.E.L.D.. From writer-director Joss Whedon, S.H.I.E.L.D. is a TV spinoff of the 2012 blockbuster The Avengers set in the same Marvel cinematic universe. In addition to co-writing with his brother Jed and Jed's wife Maurissa Tancharoen (Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog), Whedon is helming the pilot for the series, which will follow the elite peacekeeping group known as the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement Logistics Division. Clark Gregg (The New Adventures of Old Christine) will reprise his film role as fan favorite Agent Phil Coulson, joined by a slew of new characters played by Ming-Na (ER), Brett Dalton, Elizabeth Henstridge, Ian De Caestecker, and Chloe Bennet. ABC President Paul Lee recently remarked that the network is fast-tracking the S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot and expects it to land on the fall schedule, so unless something goes horribly awry, we'll be seeing a weekly TV series from the Whedon brothers set in the world of the Marvel films come September.

- Venice. In this contemporary take on Romeo and Juliet produced by McG's Wonderland Sound and Vision, a forbidden and dangerous romance emerges between two rival families battling for control of Venice — one of California's most seductive cities. Feature film director McG (Terminator Salvation) will helm the pilot while Byron Balasco (Without A Trace) handles writing duties.


- The Advocates. Written by The Mentalist creator Bruno Heller, The Advocates is a legal drama about the unlikely partnership between a female lawyer and a male ex-convict who join forces as victim advocates. They go to the edge of the law in their noble quest to right wrongs and fight for the underdog. Helming the pilot will be David Nutter, a prolific TV director who has directed 18 pilots over his career, 17 of which have been picked up to series, including The Mentalist and most recently The CW's Arrow.

- Backstrom. Based on the Backstrom books by Swedish criminologist/author Leif G.W. Persson, the show centers on Evert Backstrom, an overweight, offensive, irascible detective who tries and fails to change his self-destructive behavior. The character, who has appeared in the popular novels Linda and He Who Kills The Dragon, has been described as a detective version of Dr. Gregory House from the successful FOX series House. Bones creator Hart Hanson will write the script.

- Beverly Hills Cop. A continuation of the feature film franchise, Beverly Hills Cop shifts focus to Axel Foley's grown son Aaron (Brandon T. Jackson), now serving as a blue-collar police officer taking down the criminal elements of Los Angeles. Eddie Murphy will reprise his role as Axel, now a police chief in Detroit, for the pilot and has signed on to return as a recurring character if the series is picked up. Executive producer Shawn Ryan (FX's The Shield) has written the script and would oversee the project as showrunner. With the prospect of Eddie Murphy popping big ratings with his rare TV appearances, the pilot seems like a formality at this point, although it will be interesting to see how family-friendly CBS adapts the tone of the R-rated movies.

- Hostages. The Eye network's first official drama pilot order of the season went to Hostages, a political conspiracy thriller produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and based on an unproduced Israeli project. Emmy Award winner Toni Collette (United States of Tara) is attached to star as a successful surgeon in Washington, DC, whose family is taken hostage after she is chosen to operate on the President of the United States. Thrust into the middle of a grand political conspiracy, it is up to her to save the lives of her husband and children. Jeffrey Nachmanoff (Traitor) wrote the script and will direct the pilot.

- The Ordained. Giving hope to aspiring TV writers everywhere, journalist-turned-author Lisa Takeuchi Cullen wrote this drama about the son of a Kennedy-esque family who leaves the priesthood and becomes a lawyer to prevent his politician sister from being assassinated. Frank Marshall, who produced the Indiana Jones film franchise and countless other movies, serves as an executive producer.

- Untitled NCIS: LA Spinoff. In the proud tradition of The Jeffersons and other spinoffs that have spun off their own spinoffs, NCIS: Los Angeles creator Shane Brennan is spinning off a spinoff spun off from his spinoff. Spinoff spinoff spinoff, it's a fun word. The as-yet-untitled series would follow a small mobile team of agents who are forced to live and work together as they traverse the country solving crimes. A backdoor pilot designed to introduce the new characters is slated to air as a two-part episode of NCIS: LA later this season.

- Under The Dome. Already picked up for a 13-episode series order and scheduled to premiere on Monday, June 24, at 10:00 PM, Under The Dome is executive produced by Steven Spielberg and based on Stephen King's best-selling 2009 novel about a small New England town that is suddenly and inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world by an enormous transparent dome. While suffering under post-apocalyptic conditions, the town's inhabitants search for answers about the barrier, including if and when it will go away. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev is helming the pilot from a script written by Lost's Brian K. Vaughan, who kept the basic concept and many of the characters from the book while adding new faces and tinkering with others, all with King's blessing. We Bought A Zoo co-star Colin Ford was the first actor to join the cast, which also features Natalie Martinez, Alex Koch, and Britt Robertson.


- Boomerang. Here's a project about the usual everyday drama surrounding a family business — except this family is in the business of assassinating targets on behalf of the U.S. government. Betcha didn't see that one coming! Davey Holmes, a co-executive producer on Showtime's Shameless who previously wrote for Awake and The Chicago Code, will pen the script.

- Delirium. In a world where love is deemed illegal and can be eradicated with a special procedure, Lena Holoway does the unthinkable and falls in love 95 days before her scheduled treatment. Karyn Usher (Bones) is writing and executive producing the project, which is based on a best-selling book trilogy by Lauren Oliver.

- The List. Written by Paul Zbyszewski (Lost) and executive produced by Ruben Fleischer (Gangster Squad), The List follows Deputy U.S. Marshal Dan Shaker as he leads the hunt for the person who stole the titular list, a file containing the identities of every member of the Federal Witness Security Program. The search begins when members of the program start turning up dead.

- Rake. In this character-driven comedic drama from Peter Duncan based on his original Australian series, Greg Kinnear stars in his first network drama pilot as Keegan Joye, a brilliant but self-destructive criminal defense attorney. Due to his staggering lack of discretion and inability to self-censor, Joye is stuck with the cases that nobody else wants, but a resolute optimism and belief in justice fuel his dogged determination to defend those who seem beyond redemption. The show also documents his personal trials and tribulations, including his ongoing battle against the IRS, his mounting debt to his bookie, overlapping affairs and liaisons with women, a hormonal son, an exhausted ex-wife, and the evolving relationship between his two married best friends, Ben and Scarlett. Peter Tolan (Rescue Me) and Michael Wimer (2012) serve as executive producers. The pilot deal was contingent on landing Greg Kinnear, so the network already has some interest in the project.

- Sleepy Hollow. This contemporary supernatural reimagining of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow comes from the superstar writing duo of Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci (Star Trek), who penned the script with the upstart scribe behind the concept, Phillip Iscove. The project depicts Ichabod Crane partnering with the local female sheriff to solve the mysteries of Sleepy Hollow, a town ravaged by the ongoing war between good and evil. Executive producer Len Wiseman, director of the first two Underworld movies and the recent Total Recall remake, has signed on to helm the pilot.

- Untitled J.H. Wyman Project. Picking up the pieces following the end of FOX's cult sci-fi classic Fringe, showrunner J.H. Wyman is back with another sci-fi drama executive produced by uberdirector J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot. Described as an action-packed "buddy cop" show, the project is set in the near future when officers of the Los Angeles Police Department are partnered with highly evolved human-like androids. No word yet on a director, but how much of a slam-dunk would it be if J.J. fit this into his busy schedule?


- After Hours. From the CW's 90210 writing duo of Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, After Hours is an ensemble medical drama about a group of Army doctors who return to work the night shift together at a hospital in San Antonio. The cast of this off-cycle project includes Eoin Macken, Jill Flint, Freddy Rodriguez, Ken Leung, Jeananne Goossen, Robert Bailey Jr., and Brigid Brannagh. Taken director Pierre Morel will helm the pilot.

- Believe. A high-concept drama written by director Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men) and Mark Friedman (Home of the Brave), Believe chronicles the unlikely relationship between a 10-year-old girl who possesses great powers that will come into their own in seven years and the man who escaped from prison to protect her from those with questionable intentions hunting her down. J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot are attached in a production capacity, as is Cuarón, who will also direct. This project has been fast-tracked by NBC in anticipation of a pickup and began to explore casting options for the young female lead in December.

- The Blacklist. One of the hottest scripts in development with plenty of pre-pickup buzz, The Blacklist centers on the world's most wanted criminal who mysteriously turns himself in and offers to give up everyone he has ever worked with, but he will only work with a newly minted FBI agent with whom he seemingly has no connection. Jon Bokenkamp (Perfect Stranger) wrote the project, while executive producer John Eisendrath (Alias) will serve as showrunner.

- Bloodline. Reflecting writer David Graziano's passion for pulp fiction, graphic novels, and ancient mythology, Bloodline is a contemporary pulp action thriller in the style of Kill Bill. Set against the backdrop of modern suburbia, the story follows an orphaned young girl named Bird Benson who, due to an accident of birth, is caught in the epic struggle between two warring families of mercenaries and killers. Mentored by a mysterious Chinese man, Bird must accept the quest to find and defeat her mother in mortal combat if she is ever to lead a normal life. Executive producer Peter Berg (Battleship) will direct the pilot.

- I Am Victor. Described as "House as a divorce attorney," the main character in this legal drama is Victor Port, a high-powered divorce attorney with a unique view of relationships. Written by Mark Goffman (Studio 60, The West Wing), the project is based on a book by bestselling Norwegian novelist Jo Nesbo, one of the top crime fiction authors in Europe. Katie Jacobs, a former executive producer on House, serves the same function on I Am Victor.

- The Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives. Another Bruckheimer Television production, SLoHaW is an off-cycle soapy drama about a murder that exposes the secrets and lies within a tightly woven group of three suburban couples and their families. This marks Sascha Penn's first television writing gig after serving as executive producer on a handful of children's TV projects. The Husbands and Wives cast includes James Tupper, Jesse L. Martin, Laura Allen, Martin Henderson, Nicole Ari Parker, Olivia Luccardi, and Perry Reeves.

- The Sixth Gun. Combining supernatural elements with western motifs, The Sixth Gun is a tale of six mythical guns with otherworldly powers in the Old West. The most powerful of the collection is the titular Sixth Gun, which resurfaces in the innocent hands of a girl named Becky Montcrief, awakening dark forces and vile men thought long dead who seek to kill Becky and retrieve the mystical firearm. A self-serving gunslinger named Drake Sinclair is the only thing standing in evil's way. Based on a comic book series created by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt, the project is scripted by young writer Ryan Condal. Executive producer Carlton Cuse (Lost, Nash Bridges) will provide an experienced hand as showrunner.

- Untitled Rand Ravich Project. Set in and around Washington, DC, this untitled project from creator/executive producer Rand Ravich (Life) is described as an emotionally charged action thriller about an idealistic Secret Service agent who finds himself at the epicenter of an international crisis on his first day on the job. He must cross moral and legal lines as he navigates the highest levels of power and corruption on his quest for the truth.


- Company Town. Written and executive produced by Supernatural exec producer Sera Gamble, Company Town picks up shortly after a scandal at a Virginia Naval base has rocked the lives of civilians and military personnel in the area. The multigenerational, multiclass, family, and relationship drama will focus on two women in their early 20s who grew up together as best friends, but now find themselves on opposite sides of the dispute between military and townie. Academy Award nominee Taylor Hackford (Ray) will direct the pilot and also serves as executive producer.

- The Hundred. In this sci-fi drama set 97 years after a nuclear war has decimated civilization, a spaceship housing the lone human survivors sends 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth to investigate the possibility of re-colonizing the planet. Based on an upcoming series of books by Kass Morgan, the script will be penned by Jason Rothenberg (Body Politic).

- The Originals. A planted spinoff of the CW's hit series The Vampire Diaries, The Originals focuses on the Original family of vampires in New Orleans. Klaus (Joseph Morgan) returns to the supernatural melting pot of the French Quarter in the city he helped build centuries ago and reunites with his diabolical former protege, Marcel. Daniel Gillies and Phoebe Tonkin will also reprise their roles as Elijah and Hayley for the spinoff, written by Vampire Diaries co-creator/executive producer Julie Plec. The backdoor pilot is scheduled to air as an episode of Diaries on April 25. One word should sum up the chances of The Originals going to series: Duh.

- Oxygen. Ten years after aliens landed on Earth and were consigned to an internment camp, an epic romance blossoms between a human girl and an alien boy when he and eight other extraterrestrials are integrated into a suburban high school. In short, picture District 9 having sex with Twilight. Meredith Averill (The Good Wife) will write and executive produce.

- Reign. The CW could get in on the period drama craze with this account of the ascent of Mary Queen of Scots, beginning when she arrives in France at the age of 15, betrothed to Prince Francis, with her three best friends as ladies-in-waiting. Imagine... The Carrie Diaries having sex with Downton Abbey? Ew, on second thought, don't imagine that. It's totally creepy. Written and executive produced by Stephanie Sengupta (Outlaw) and Laurie McCarthy (CSI: Miami), the series would chronicle the Queen's untold history of survival at French Court amidst fierce foes, dark forces, and a world of sexual intrigue.

- The Selection. An attempt to exploit the popularity of The Hunger Games, The Selection is an epic romance set 300 years in the future, revolving around a working-class young woman who is selected by lottery to participate in a competition to become the next queen of an unstable nation at a crossroads. While balancing her loyalty to family, love, and kingdom, she attempts to remain true to herself as she navigates the cutthroat competition and palace intrigue. CW brass is pleased with the retooled script by Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain (The Vampire Diaries, 666 Park Avenue), based on a series of novels by Kiera Cass, and would like to see this project move forward.