Celebrities

TV Upfronts: Meet the Mega-Producers

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3 Arts leads the pack, while Greg Berlanti approaches history and Marvel has a huge cable and broadcast upfronts, landing new shows on ABC, Fox, Hulu, Freeform and FXX.

In an era of increased competition from cable and streaming services alike, the broadcast networks continue to turn to experienced producers to steer their new investments. Following a pilot season that again featured familiar IP and spinoffs, the broadcast networks doubled down on proven hit-makers like Shonda Rhimes and Greg Berlanti, while other reliable producers had a tougher go of it (including Kenya Barris, Nahnatchka Khan as well as Carter Bays and Craig Thomas among them).  

Here’s a look at the 2017-18 season’s biggest winners, including those who now have multiple series on broadcast and cable. (Last year’s overachievers can be found here.)

Talent management and production company 3 Arts led the pack this season after converting three out of its five pilots to series pickups: Fox medical drama The Resident and the Adam Scott/Craig Robinson comedy Ghosted; as well as NBC’s Charlie Grandy/Mindy Kaling comedy Champions. Meanwhile, ABC’s Amy Poehler-produced Carol Burnett-starrer Household Name and NBC’s buzzy The Sackett Sisters are still in contention. On the returning show front, the company scored renewals at Fox for The Mick, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and a final season for New Girl as well as at NBC with Great News (which moves to Thursdays as part of its relaunched “Must-See TV” lineup post-Will and Grace) and at CBS for Matt LeBlanc’s Man With a Plan. (NBC’s Marlon, which they also produce, has yet to debut.)

Aaron Kaplan went into upfronts with a leading six pilots in the works this season: ABC’s Charlie Foxtrot and Losing It; CBS’ 9JKLHannah Royce’s Questionable Choices as well as Me, Myself and I; and Fox’s Linda From HR. Of those, two went forward — CBS’ 9JKL as well as Me, Myself and I. (Sources say Linda is still in contention, too.) He also scored a second season renewal for ABC freshman comedy American Housewife despite losing sophomore anthology Secrets and Lies. On the cable side, he has second seasons of Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet, HBO’s Divorce and Showtime’s The Chi on top of a distribution deal with CBS Television Studios and his Kapital Entertainment.

With two of his four pilots picked up to series, Greg Berlanti stands on the cusp of TV history, with 10 shows on the air. ABC picked up magic drama Deception, while The CW was impressed enough by the short pilot presentation shot for Fox DC Comics import Black Lightning that it joined the network’s schedule. Meanwhile, Berlanti’s first comedy pilot — ABC’s Diablo Cody-produced Raised by Wolves — is being shopped to cable. With bubble drama Blindspot scoring a third season, Berlanti’s entire TV roster successfully avoided the ax.

Peter Traugott-led Keshet Studios, the L.A.-based subsidiary of Keshet International, completed a strong first year of development with two of its three pilots moving forward, including NBC’s The Brave, which snagged the prime post-Voice slot on Mondays, as well as CBS’ Jeremy Piven drama Wisdom of the Crowd.

Marvel is beginning to give comic book rival DC Entertainment a run for its money, going two-for-two this season after ABC went straight to series with a big-swing Imax co-production on drama The Inhumans joining Fox’s X-Men drama The Gifted getting the series nod. The latter gives Fox shows from both comic book publishers. The Gifted pickup also capped a big upfronts for Marvel, with FXX picking up an animated comedy based on Deadpool, Hulu going to series on Runaways and Freeform going straight to series with the company’s first comedy, New Warriors.

Shonda Rhimes inches closer to seeing Grey’s Anatomy top ER to become TV’s longest-running medical drama as ABC’s top drama and the seventh and final season of Scandal are joined by legal hour For the People at the Disney-owned network. ABC also had one of the biggest surprise announcements of upfronts week with a straight-to-series pickup for a Grey’s Anatomy spinoff set at a Seattle firehouse. The latter more than made up for the cancellation of sophomore drama The Catch as rookie Still Star-Crossed has yet to debut.

Special honorable mention goes to the late and great Aaron Spelling, who had two of his original shows rebooted this season: CBS with S.W.A.T. and The CW with Dynasty.

On the flipside, Black-ish creator Kenya Barris failed to add a second broadcast series. Of his three projects in the works this season, ABC shipped his Black-ish spinoff to younger-skewing cable sibling Freeform while passing on Felicity Huffman and Courtney B. Vance comedy Libby and Malcolm as well as Toni Collette drama Unit Zero. Don’t feel bad for Barris, though: both pilots are being shopped elsewhere and he scored a rich new four-year deal with ABC Studios. … Nahnatchka Khan went 0-for-2 with ABC passing on family comedy Jalen vs. Everybody and NBC doing the same for its untitled Kourtney Kang half-hour. Perennial bubble comedy Fresh Off the Boat, however, did score a renewal. … Also going 0-for-2 this season were How I Met Your Mother creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, whose TV comeback will have to wait for another day after CBS said no to Chris Distefano’s semi-autobiographical comedy as well as Hilary Winston’s Real Life, the latter of which was redeveloped from last year. 

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