Pilot Season Crap Shoot
Networks shoot for fall
While us couch potatoes muddle through the doldrums of midseason, the Network Powers That Be are formulating plans for ratings domination come fall. That's right, it's pilot season in Hollywood. While we watch Olympics highlights and wait for the series finale of “Will & Grace” (oh, boy), Hollywood is busy cobbling together the shows we may (or may not) be watching next season.
NBC—Connie Britton, who starred in the film Friday Night Lights, will appear in a small screen adaptation of the hit football drama. Britton will reprise her role as the wife of a Texas high school football coach. Played in the film version by Billy Bob Thornton, the role of Britton's husband will be taken over by Kyle Chandler (King Kong). Super-producer J.J. Abrams (“Alias,” “Lost”), hoping to strike gold yet again, will pilot the New York-set nighttime soap “Six Degrees.” Alec Baldwin will team up with “SNL” writer Tina Fey for an untitled sitcom about the behind-the-scenes life of a TV sketch comedy. One-time “Gilmore Girls” star Milo Ventimigila has joined the cast of “Heroes.” The show concentrates on a group of young people who discover they have superpowers. The casting doesn't bode well for Ventimigila's midseason replacement series over on WB, “The Bedford Diaries,” which has yet to debut and is now minus a star.
CBS—Teri Polo (currently playing the wife of presidential candidate Jimmy Smits on “The West Wing”) is heading the cast of “Welcome to the Jungle Gym,” a sitcom about women juggling work and family. CBS is also betting on a number of offbeat dramas. “The Way” is about a New England crime family dabbling in witchcraft. “Jericho” takes place in a small town after a nuclear catastrophe. “Orpheus” is about a man trying to rescue his girlfriend from a cult.
ABC—Ben Shenkman (Emmy nominee for Angels in America) will star in “Twenty Questions,” a thriller about a State Department employee caught in a conspiracy. Adding to the alphabet net's heavy roster of sitcoms is “The Guys,” an ensemble comedy about five men who become friends through their kids. Rachel Blanchard (“7th Heaven”) will star in “Our Thirties,” a sitcom about a group of young people who suddenly realize adulthood is upon them. Eric Mabius (The Crow: Salvation) will headline opposite America Ferrara (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) in “Ugly Betty,” about the son of a publishing magnate who gets a job at his dad's magazine.
FOX—FOX has lured Lord of the Rings star Sean Bean for the drama “Faceless,” about a federal prosecutor who goes undercover to infiltrate a crime organization. Jaime King (Sin City) is also coming to FOX in “The Worst Week of My Life,” an Americanization of the Brit sitcom of the same name. Julie Hagerty (Airplane), meanwhile, will play the mom of the title character (“The Daily Show”'s Rob Corddry) in “Becoming Glen.”