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Jan 21
Ali Articles & Interviews, Pivoting Comments Off on Pandemic Fog Casts a Shadow on Another TV Pilot Season

As Ginnifer fans have been anxiously awaiting a new project for her, Covid has taken it’s toll on the TV Pilot season so the status of Pivoting is still up in the air but it appears that the cast is preparing for production with a table reading.

Comedies and dramas picked up this time a year ago remain in contention as a new batch of development and a rising number of series orders compete for slots on a schedule filled with uncertainty.

As the calendar turns to a new year, that traditionally brings the start of pilot season for the five broadcast networks. Considering that pilot season 2020 was completely upended when production halted in March at the outset of the pandemic, this year is anything but business as usual as many of last season’s pilots are still in contention for series pickups.

Among the biggest burning questions facing ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and The CW are when any of the comedies and dramas that are now heating up for series orders or those that have already been picked up will actually air. Some could wind up airing as intended during the current 2020-21 season. Many others could be pushed to the 2021-22 season as the networks hope a vaccine and new administration can bring a return to normalcy.

Then there’s the new crop of scripts, many with sizable financial penalties attached, that remain in contention for a pilot order as those comedies and dramas will compete with others that have spent much of the past year awaiting a production start date. That also brings the question of volume. How many of the original ideas and myriad reboots will get a pilot order when each of the networks already have sizable slates of holdovers? ABC has two high-profile reboots in the works from Lee Daniels (The Wonder Years and Waiting to Exhale), plus an L.A. Law sequel and an All My Children primetime project. The CW is prepping a new DC Comics drama from Ava DuVernay and a spinoff from Nancy Drew. NBC has a new Night Court and Finding Forrester competing with scores of other scripts from the likes of DuVernay, Adam Rippon and Blake Shelton, to name a few.

All the networks also have other comedies and dramas they’ve picked up in the past few months that are awaiting to be scheduled including ABC’s Rebel, NBC’s Kenan, CBS’ United States of Al, The CW’s Republic of Sarah and Fox’s animated comedy Housebroken. Fox and ABC also have already picked up shows specifically earmarked for the 2021-22 broadcast season. (ABC’s multicamera comedy starring Alec Baldwin and Kelsey Grammer and Fox’s This Country, which was ordered to pilot a year ago).

The world has changed considerably in the past nine months and networks are also contending with the new realities of production. One question that sources say is front and center heading into pilot season 2021 is if audiences still want dystopian fare as a return to The Before Times is not likely to come until the fall or even 2022. “People don’t want things that are too bleak — especially if it’s bleak and expensive,” one veteran lit agent says. Writers have already adapted to the new realities of production — scripting fewer crowd scenes and such — and now networks are contending with questions involving what projects are possible to film. Can The CW move ahead with a show set on a college campus? Will expensive sci-fi fare move forward as conglomerates across the board have been slashing jobs?

Below is a look at where things at each of the five broadcast networks sit as staffing season starts to heat up in advance of new round of pilot pickups.

After selling its studio to Disney to and ramping up unscripted and sports, Fox has fewer hours to program and had already reduced its need for scripted originals. Still, the network this month launched Mayim Bialik-led comedy Call Me Kat and has animated comedy Housebroken (from Sharon Horgan and Clea Duvall) awaiting a premiere date. Drama This Country, from Paul Feig and starring Seann William Scott, was picked up to series for the 2021-22 season. On the pilot side, Ginnifer Goodwin-Eliza Coupe comedy Pivoting, dramas The Cleaning Lady, Blood Relative and the Goonies re-enactment are gearing up for table reads as production ramps up on all four. Drama The Big Leap started filming in November but was shut down over the holidays and remains on hiatus like much of the rest of production. Chatter remains strong for a pickup for The Cleaning Lady, starring Elodie Yung. The Charlie Collier-led network, like ABC, has focused on year-round development and isn’t expected to greenlight a ton of new pilots. The network also recently picked up a new take on Fantasy Island for summer 2021.


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