by Deborah Harter Williams
What are they thinking those television execs? What flights of fantasy run through the minds of the would-be producers of future shows? Where do they get their ideas?
Well, here it is – pilot season – an eclectic mix of new, old, out-there, and you’ve-got-to-be-kidding. Watch for diversity and big screen faces.
Presence – ABC
Army veteran Presence Foster is played by Mexican actress (The Bridge, Narcos) and former Bond girl Stephanie Sigman, who “unintentionally begins a career as an unlicensed private investigator” in LA. Described as “a stylish update of the classic detective genre.” Created by John Ridley (12 Years a Slave, American Crime).
The Jury – ABC
“12 Angry Men meets the podcast Serial,” according to A.V. Club. I’m not a fan of taking one case and dragging it out for a whole season, but I’ll give it a look to see Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife).
Model Woman – ABC
Robert Lacey’s book, Model Woman: Eileen Ford and the Business of Beauty comes to the small screen with Andie MacDowell as the “tempestuous matriarch” and “uncompromising businesswoman” running an international modeling agency. Set in the 1970s (plenty of opportunity for great and wacky production and costume design). Dallas with dresses.
Untitled (aka Star) – 20th Century Fox TV
Three Atlanta girls form a band and rise to the top, influenced by beauty shop owner/surrogate mom Carlotta (Queen Latifa). It’s the triumph and heartache of the cutthroat music business. Benjamin Bratt is a talent manager and Carlotta’s old flame who sees potential in the girls.
Created by Lee Daniels (co-creator Empire, Producer/Director The Butler).
The Death of Eva Sofia Valdez – ABC
Entrepreneur and champion for immigrant rights, ESV, Gina Torres (Suits, Firefly), harbors a vendetta against her former lover, a wealthy Miami aristocrat, played by Eric Close (Without a Trace, Nashville). Her past reveals that supernatural forces may have been the secret behind her success. Written by Cuban-American playwright Charise Castro Smith. ABC calls it “Macbeth with a Cuban twist.”
JACK BAUER IS DEAD, LONG LIVE JACK BAUER
24: Legacy – 20th Century Fox TV
A military hero comes to CTU for help to protect himself and to stop a large-scale terror attack. Yes, it will be told in real time with split screens and each episode covering one hour of an exhausting day. Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton, The Walking Dead) is the new Jack Bauer. Jimmy Smits is a U.S. Senator married to the former head of CTU, (Miranda Otto – Homeland). Dan Bucatinsky (Scandal) is part of CTU.
Fear not, Keifer Sutherland is not unemployed. Designated Survivor stars Sutherland as a lower-level U.S. Cabinet member who becomes president when an attack during the State of the Union address kills everyone above him in the line of succession.
SHAKESPEARE – Will THEY OR WON’T THEY?
Will – TNT
Described as “the hot, contemporary, dangerous version of Shakespeare’s life, played to a modern soundtrack.” Laurie Davidson will play Shakespeare and Colm Meaney (Star Trek:TNG and DS9) is James Burbage, a carpenter with a dream to build the first theatre in London.
Still Star-Crossed – ABC Studios – Based Melinda Taub’s book.
The story picks up where Romeo & Juliet ended. Treachery, palace intrigue, and ill-fated romances for the Montagues and Capulets in old Verona. From Shondaland.
TIME TRAVEL AND QUANTUM PHYSICS
Time – NBC
Billed as “Back To The Future meets Mission: Impossible.” Goran Visnjic (ER, Extant) as Garcia Flynn steals a time machine from the owner of Lark Industries (Paterson Joseph – Aeon Flux). Guided by a strange journal he seems bent on destruction. Matt Lanter (90210), Abigail Spencer (Rectify), and Malcolm Barrett (Better Off Ted) give chase.
Prototype – SyFy
An unlikely trio (isn’t it always so) stumble upon an invention that challenges the rules of quantum physics. Two of the three have been cast and it’s a great start – Jack Davenport (the devilish director Derek from Smash) and Cote de Pablo (Ziva David from NCIS).
Time After Time – Warner Bros TV
Karl Alexander’s 1979 novel sparked a movie with Malcolm McDowell as H.G. Wells. This one uses that story as a jumping off point. Freddie Stroma (Pitch Perfect, Game of Thrones) is Wells. Regina Taylor plays the billionaire businesswoman who owns the time machine. Genesis Rodriguez is the museum curator/love interest with American Idol winner Jordin Sparks as her BFF.
MORE FROM THE BOOKSHELF
Hollywood seems to have wised up and cracked a book or two as inspiration for TV series. These are BOBs (Based on Books.)
The Interestings – Amazon (Based on Meg Wolitzer’s novel)
A group of friends meet at an arts camp in the 70s when they’re 15. The series follows them over three decades.
The Last Tycoon – Amazon (Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel)
Monroe Stahr (based on Irving Thalberg) is the young studio executive challenging his mentor (based on Louis B. Mayer). Ambition and the quest for power in Hollywood of the ’30s. Matt Bomer (White Collar) is in the title role with Kelsey Grammer, Rosemarie DeWitt and Lily Collins.
Midnight, Texas – NBC (Based on a trilogy by the author of the Sookie Stackhouse books, Charlaine Harris)
It’s being called “Twin Peaks meets True Blood.” A remote Texas town inhabited by the supernatural. Starring Sarah Ramos (Parenthood).
The Alienist – TNT (Based on the novel by Caleb Carr*)
In 1894 New York City Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, along with newspaper reporter John Moore and police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, uses the new science of psychology to track down a serial killer.
FROM THE MOVIES
The Exorcist – Fox
Inspired by the original William Blatty book (1971). In this version two men tackle a family’s case of demonic possession. Geena Davis co-stars.
Frequency – CW
In the 2000 movie, Jim Caviezel was a New York homicide detective who makes contact with his late father (Dennis Quaid) 30 years in the past. In the CW version, it’s a female police detective, Peyton List (The Flash, Madmen), who is able to speak via ham radio with her father – Riley Smith (Nashville, True Detective).
Lethal Weapon – Fox
Martin Riggs, Texas cop and former Navy SEAL, loses his wife and baby and moves to Los Angeles to join the LAPD. Detective Roger Murtaugh, who just had a “minor” heart attack and is advised to avoid stress, gets to be his partner. Clayne Crawford (Rectify) is Riggs and Damon Wayans Sr. (Major Payne, My Wife and Kids) is Murtaugh.
Cruel Intentions – NBC
Based on the 1999 movie. Fifteen years later Kathryn Merteuil (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is determined to control Valmont International and the soul of Bash Casey (Taylor John Smith of American Crime), son of her brother, the late Sebastian Valmont (Ryan Philippe reprises). Promises “Sex, money, power and corruption.”
REBOOTS – FAVORITE CHARACTERS REIMAGINED
MacGyver – CBS
New MacGyver is 25 years-old, a former Army bomb tech, who has been captured, rescued, and welcomed home as a hero. But he has no memory of how he was taken and what happened to his fellow prisoners…and he sees his captors everywhere. The only one who believes him is a friend of his father. Lucas Till (X-Men, Hannah Montana: The Movie) has been awarded the title role with George Eads (CSI) playing a conspiracy expert.
Drew – CBS
New Nancy Drew is grown up and a detective for the NYPD. Sarah Shahi (Person of Interest, Fairly Legal) stars. Anthony Edwards (ER, Northern Exposure) is her father and Steve Kazee (Shameless, Legends) is former boyfriend Ned, now investigative reporter for the New York Times.
OUT OF THIS WORLD – PARANORMAL
Untitled Paranormal – CW
Matt Passmore (Satisfaction, The Glades) plays a once successful parapsychologist now relegated to ghost conventions. A woman (Megan West) experiencing paranormal phenomena seeks his help.
Shut Eye – HULU *
Dark comedy set among Los Angeles storefront psychics. A cynic has his world shaken when he starts to experience visions. Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice) and KaDee Strickland (Charlotte King on Private Practice) star with Isabella Rossellini, as Rita – matriarch of the Romanis.
OUT OF LEFT FIELD
Pitch – Fox
A young pitcher becomes the first woman to play in the major leagues. Kylie Bunbury (Under the Dome, Twisted) is up and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Saved By the Bell, Franklin and Bash) catches. Play ball!
* Picked up
Which pilots would you vote for?
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