ABC Bulks Up On Drama With 8 New Pilots
On the heels of its huge success with the freshman murder mystery How to Get Away With Murder, ABC is bulking up its slate of drama series. The network recently picked up eight new drama pilots for the 2015-2016 season, including a cop procedural, a biblical saga, and another thriller from Shonda Rhimes.
First up chronologically is a religious-themed series entitled Of Kings and Prophets. Per Variety, the series is described as “an epic Biblical saga of faith, ambition and betrayal.” The show is told from the perspectives of three different characters — a weary king, a powerful prophet, and a resourceful young shepherd — all of whom are “on a collision course with destiny.”
Exodus: Gods & Kings writers Adam Cooper and Bill Collage will pen the script for the pilot, with Jason Reed, Reza Aslan, and Mahyad Tousi on board as executive producers. The series is the latest in a rapidly increasing amount of biblical dramas on the small screen, after the success of the History Channel’s 2013 miniseries The Bible.
The network is also prepping the latest entry into the crime procedural genre, with the forthcoming new pilot L.A. Crime. The series will explore themes of sex and politics across different eras in Los Angeles history, with each season focusing on a different time period and storyline.
The potential first season will reportedly take place in the rock-and-roll, drug-infused period of the 1980s on the Sunset Strip. It will follow the story of two police officers as they go on the hunt for a Bonnie-and-Clyde-esque team of serial killers. Steven Baigelman (Get On Up) will write the pilot, while Mandeville Television will serve as the executive producer.
Also on ABC’s list of developing pilots is the drama Quantico, which follows a group of young FBI recruits as they complete their training at the Quantico base in Virginia. Written by Josh Safran (Gossip Girl, Smash) and executive produced by the Mark Gordon Company, the series jumps from present day to flashbacks in order to reveal the hidden pasts of each member of the group — including which of the recruits is actually a sleeper terrorist.
The hour-long family dramedy Mix examines the realities of several modern-day families — “multicultural, multigenerational, and those built through divorces, affairs, and adoptions.” Written by Jennifer Cecil and executive produced by Cecil, Le Train Train, Rashida Jones, and Will McCormack, the series set against the backdrop of a family restaurant “at a crossroads.”
The network also announced that it’s picked up Runner, based on the Turkish series Son and executive produced by Michael Cooney (Identity). The series follows a woman whose perfect life is turned upside down when a “simple twist of fate” leads her to learn that her husband is not the person she believed him to be. When she attempts to uncover the truth of who she really is, she must follow a trail of lies that takes her into the world of illegal gun trading and cartels between the United States and Mexico.
Runner was originally set up at Fox and rolled from last season with a cast contingency attached before getting picked up at ABC. Cooney will pen the newest version of the pilot. Meanwhile, Ian Sander, Kim Moses, and Peter Horton will co-executive produce alongside Suits writer-producer Jon Cowan, who will serve as showrunner, as well.
Fans of ABC’s TGIT block will be happy to learn that the network has also picked up another pilot from from Shondaland executive producers Rhimes and Betsy Beers. Written by Jennifer Schur (Hannibal), Catch is a thriller about a female forensic accountant who — unbeknownst to her con of a fiancé — exposes fraud for a living. When her fiancé’s planned scam collides with her lies, her world ends up getting turned upside down, and the two end up in a dangerous pursuit.
Should Catch earn a series pickup, it would mark Shondaland’s fourth show on the network’s lineup. The production company currently dominates ABC’s entire Thursday night block, the entirety of which is considered a sure thing for renewal.
The sixth drama pilot, Broad Squad, hails from Gossip Girl creators Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz. Inspired by true stories, it will reportedly follow the first four women to graduate from Boston’s Police Academy in 1978. Schwartz and Savage will executive produce alongside Kapital Entertainment’s Aaron Kaplan and Bess Wohl (Flightplan), who will pen the script.
Aside from its extensive list of developing dramas, ABC has also picked up two comedy pilots: Chev & Bev, starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo, and a still-untitled Dan Savage project. The former, written by Brad Copeland, will follow two carefree baby boomers whose careful and seamless retirement is suddenly disrupted when they are suddenly left to raise their grandchildren.
The latter, inspired by Savage’s real-life experiences, will follow a character loosely based on the columnist as his life takes a positive, new turn when his son comes out of the closet. Savage will produce while David Windsor and Casey Johnson will pen the pilot.
The network has also given the green light to Flesh and Blood, a drama from Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal alumna Jenna Bans. Written by Bans, the series will chronicle the return of a politician’s young son who was presumed dead after disappearing over a decade earlier. His return sends shockwaves throughout their tight knit community and everyone struggles to come to terms with the event – including the cop responsible for jailing a neighbor for the boy’s murder, who must now be released. Bans will executive produce the project, along with Mandeville’s David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Laurie Zaks.
This season’s newly picked up pilots will also join Irreversible, starring Justin Long. Described as “partially improvised in the vein of Curb Your Enthusiasm,” the single camera comedy was first picked up by ABC last year and rolled over into this season, following several casting changes.