From Source to Screen: A 2012-13 Program Development Overview

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The
five major English-language broadcast networks-ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and The CW-ordered
89 scripted pilots for the upcoming 2012-13 season. This was almost identical
to the number of scripted pilots ordered in 2011-12 season (88). In addition,
both ABC and NBC have already ordered a drama from the program developmental
list without having shot a pilot for it.

Typically,
after a pilot is ordered, (between December and February), producers select
cast members (January to March), and filming ensues, lasting from one week to
ten days (February to April). The production cost of a one-hour drama can be
upwards of $5 million with a few costing even more than that. A majority of
pilots are filmed in Los Angeles with the remaining filmed around the country
and Canada.

NUMBER
OF SCRIPTED PILOTS ORDERED BY NETWORK/GENRE

 

 
Dramas  

Comedies 

 
Total 

ABC

 12

12

24

CBS

8

9

17

NBC

10

 14

24

Fox

5

 11

16

CW

8

 0

8

Total

43

46

89

As in
previous seasons, there are several common programming themes with the pilots
ordered. Popular sources for a program in development include books, real-life or
autobiographical experiences and import programs from other nations. And the
2012-13 programs in development offer a fascinating list of common themes.

Books:
This coming season
will find six book-based pilots ordered, compared to 12 from last season.

666
Park Avenue
,
a supernatural drama pilot ordered by ABC, is based on a book by Gabriela Pierce.
Counter Culture is a family and workplace comedy pilot ordered by ABC that
comes from a book by Candacy Taylor. And Scruples is a soap opera drama
pilot ordered by ABC; it springs from the popular Judith Krantz novel published
in the 1970s.

Applebaum
is a drama on
the CBS program development list, based on a book by Ayelet Waldman. The
Carrie Diaries,
a possible drama on The CW, comes from the laptop of
Candace Bushnell and is based on her Sex and the City book. And another
CW book-based drama, The Selection, comes from a series of upcoming
books by Kiera Cass. And, The CW has ordered the action/adventure program The
Arrow
that is based on the DC comic book character.

Lastly,
there's Hannibal, a drama series already picked up by NBC, which comes
from the series of novels by Thomas Harris, who gave us The Silence of the Lambs.

Autobiographical:
Real-life
experiences continue to produce a glut of new TV options. The long-winded title
How to Live with Your Parents for the Rest of Your Lives is a comedy on
ABC's development list, loosely based on the life of executive producer Claudia
Lonow. Like Father, a comedy on the development slate at Fox, comes from
the real-life experiences of executive producer Bill Lawrence. And Partners,
a comedy pilot ordered by CBS, is based on the friendship between its executive
producers Max Mutchnick and David Kohan.

NBC
has ordered Sarah 313, a comedy loosely based on a past relationship of
comedienne Sarah Silverman (who is also an executive producer). Another NBC
comedy in development, Rebounding, comes loosely based on the life of
its executive producer Joe Port and focuses on a young man coming to grips with
the death of his fiancée.

CBS
has ordered an unnamed romantic comedy that comes from the real-life
experiences of the program's executive producer Nick Stoller.

Imports: Some of the most successful
series in the history of U.S. television originated from popular programs in
other nations. For 2012-13, the networks have ordered nine pilots with roots in
shows from other countries.

Devious
Maids,
a soapy drama
on ABC, originates from a Mexican telenovela called The Disorderly Maids of
the Neighborhood. Isabel
is a family comedy on NBC's development list; it's
based on a French Canadian series called Le Monde deCharlotte.

From
Great Britain's Channel 4 to NBC's pilot list comes the family comedy Friday
Night Dinner
. Also from the U.K. to NBC is Bad Girls, a drama about
female prisoners. The program comes from an ITV series with the same name.

Mistresses
is a soap
opera-type drama that has already been picked up by ABC. It's based on Great
Britain's BBC-1 series. Also with English roots is the ABC comedy White Van
Man
, the pilot based on a BBC-3 series. Penoza, a drama pilot
ordered by ABC, comes from a Dutch television format.

The CW's
Joey Dakota, meanwhile,is
a time traveling musical drama that is based on Danny Hollywood, an Israeli series. Also from Israel is Midnight
Sun
, a detective/mystery drama pilot picked up by NBC. In a move sure to
set it apart from its source, the program will be relocated to Alaska.

Time
Period Shows:
This
programming format has offered some mixed results of late, but networks will
turn to it again for four series.

Gilded
Lilys,
an
ensemble drama pilot ordered by ABC, is about the workers and guests at a New
York luxury hotel, circa 1895. Ralph Lamb is a police drama on CBS'
development list. The show chronicles the life and times of a maverick Las
Vegas sheriff in the 1960s and ‘70s.

NBC
has ordered Frontier, a drama about a group of people travelling west
during the 1840s. And the aforementioned Carrie Diaries, a drama
ordered to pilot by The CW, is a "prequel" to HBO's Sex in the City series.
It is a coming-of-age program recounting Carrie Bradshaw as a high school
student in the 1980s.

It's
the Economy:
The makers of several
pilots hope to see big money from the still-resonating impact of the Great Recession.

Malibu
Country,
a
comedy on ABC's development list, centers on a divorcee with no money moving
her family to Malibu. Only Fools and Horses, another pilot ordered by
ABC, concerns two brothers who squeeze out a living while waiting to "make it
big." And in ABC's How to Live with Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life, a
single mother moves back home to live with her folks.

CBS
has three unnamed comedies in development with economy as a prevailing story
line. One, from Larry Dorf and Ben Falcone, finds a 37-year-old man losing
everything and moving back home to his parents. An untitled project from Mike
Lisbe and Nate Reger is about a 46-year-old father who loses his job and,
despite his age, enlists in the police academy. An untitled project from Louis
C.K. and Spike Feresten is about a group of young adults who try to follow
their dreams in an unpromising economy. And Downwardly Mobile, a comedy
pilot ordered by NBC, follows the activity in a mobile-home park during tough
economic times.

Beauty
and the Beast:
Two
dramas currently in development share this same name, one for ABC, the other
for The CW. The former follows the traditional French fairytale, popularized
by Disney, of a princess encountering a mysterious beast. The CW pilot is an
updated version of the cult CBS program of the 1980s in which a New York-based
assistant district attorney befriends a subterranean creature.

Supernatural:
The unknown
has proven to be a known quantity in TV, producing some popular programs and
movies. This year, ABC leads the way in focusing on the genre.

The network has ordered 666 Park Avenue, about a young couple working in
hotel/apartment who witness paranormal activity. Gotham, another pilot
from ABC, is about a female law enforcement officer finding an unseen magical
world in New York City. ABC also has Zero Hour, centeringon an editor of a magazine on conspiracies (Anthony
Edwards of ER) who is skeptical of
them-until he encounters a huge one. And an untitled drama from Roland Emmerich
ordered by ABC is about a college grad selected to fight the forces of evil.

Revolution is a possible drama for NBC, in which
all forms of energy cease to exist. Midnight Sun, another pilot on NBC's
development list, this one starring Julia Stiles, is about the mysterious
disappearance in a cult-like commune in a remote Alaskan town.

Cult, a drama on The CW's slate, is
about a series of mysterious deaths connected to a popular television show. And
the one comedy in development of this genre is an untitled Dan Fogelman Project
from ABC, about a young couple moving into a condo complex where all the
neighbors are aliens from outer space.

The
Name Rings a Bell:
The
Munsters
is on
NBC's development list as a drama. The program is based on the comedy that
aired on CBS for two seasons in the mid-1960s; the remake features vampires,
werewolves and Frankenstein. Scruples, a drama based on the Judith
Krantz novel, is on ABC's development list. CBS aired a miniseries with the
same name and source material over three nights in February 1980, headlined by
Lindsay Wagner.

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