Looking `Desperate,' networks open to ideas

`Housewives' helps bring some change to spring's pilot season

April 24, 2005|By Roger Catlin | Roger Catlin,HARTFORD COURANT

Talk of a year-round TV season - with new shows popping up any old time and not just the fall - hasn't affected spring's pilot season.

Two-thirds of the roughly 100 pilots under way will be shelved. But what has gotten the green light so far gives a hint at what the networks are interested in.

In a year when a quirky new scripted program, Desperate Housewives, proved it could vault over reality shows to rank No. 1, there's hope for network shows with new ideas - though there's no shortage of the usual suspects proposed.

Among some of the more interesting pilot developments:

Hot jobs: Real estate seems the profession of the moment, with the comedy Hot Property in the works for NBC, Hot Properties with Nicole Sullivan and Gail O'Grady on ABC, and Ashley Scott and Charlotte Ross selling pieces of L.A. in ABC's drama Westside.

John Leguizamo stars in an untitled CBS drama about a sports agent; that's also the job for Ashley Williams in the proposed Fox drama Amy Coyne.

Football players are the subject of two other comedies - one starring Morris Chestnut at NBC, the other with Kevin Sorbo on ABC.

The life of talk-show hosts is explored on two potential UPN comedies, Friends in the AM and The Show With AJ Calloway.

Lottery winners figure in both NBC's comedy My Name Is Earl with Jason Lee, and the Fox drama Ticket to Ride with Luke Perry.

Homeland security: E Ring is NBC's look inside the Pentagon, with Benjamin Bratt, Sarah Clark and Dennis Hopper. Scott Foley and Dennis Haysbert star in the CBS drama about special forces soldiers, The Unit.

FBI agents investigate crimes against Americans abroad on NBC's World of Trouble with Idris Elba of The Wire. Mandy Patinkin is a member of the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit in CBS's Quantico. Con artists work for the FBI on ABC's Pros and Cons.

Sci-fi: Aliens invade via the sea in NBC's Fathom with Lake Bell. They invade Florida on ABC's Invasion. An alien life form is found in CBS's Threshold, starring Carla Gugino.

More otherworldly events are found in The WB's Supernatural and on an untitled CBS drama based on the psychic work of James Van Praagh starring Jennifer Love Hewitt and Aisha Tyler. And there's a remake of the old Kolchak: The Night Stalker, now called just Night Stalker.

The SNL touch: One comedy franchise that has worked for NBC is Saturday Night Live, whose staff has been given free rein in developing such comedies as Thick and Thin, about a woman who has lost a lot of weight, and The Weekend, a partly improvised comedy about three neighboring families. SNL head writer Tina Fey produces her own comedy pilot - about a head writer for a variety show - when this season's late-night season concludes.

Former SNL star Chris Kattan plays a small-town TV newsman on an untitled ABC comedy; current cast member Josh Meyers is a mismatched roommate on Fox's Peep Show, based on the British comedy of the same name.

New to TV: Bernadette Peters stars in the ABC comedy Adopted. Heather Graham is an advice columnist on the ABC comedy Emily's Reason Why Not. Emilio Estevez is a downsized corporate exec running a small business on ABC's Long Island Sound. Janeane Garofalo portrays a professional poker player in an NBC comedy based on the life of Annie Duke.

Returning to TV: Julia Louis-Dreyfus returns as a divorced mom in her 30s in the CBS comedy Old Christine. James Van Der Beek is a divorced guy on Three, also for CBS.

Camryn Manheim is a single mom in suburbia in an unnamed WB comedy. Brooke Shields stars in a Fox comedy about life at a car dealership, New Car Smell.

Jenna Elfman returns as a single dating woman in Everything I Know About Men. Vincent Pastore of The Sopranos returns as owner of a diner in Boston's North End for NBC.

Geena Davis plays the first female president in Commander in Chief, an ABC comedy with Donald Sutherland.

The Hartford Courant is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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