ABC believes that its year-round development cycle will mean that it can give creators of pilots such as Kevin Costner’s National Parks and Epic from Once Upon a Time creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis a better shot of landing on the schedule.
Your Complete Guide to Pilots and Straight-to-Series orders
The Disney-owned network still has a number of pilot projects in various states of production and ABC chief Craig Erwich told Deadline that it will “continue to evaluate” these dramas.
This comes after it handed series pickups for the 2021/22 broadcast season to pilots The Wonder Years, Queens, Maggie and Abbott Elementary and passed on pilots including Sam Esmail’s Acts of Crime and comedies Black Don’t Crack and Bucktown.
Erwich said crime drama National Parks, which the Yellowstone star co-wrote with Aaron Helbing and Jon Baird, is still in editing, while romantic anthology Epic, which stars Brittany O’Grady, Sarah Hyland and Eleanor Fanyinka, and Matt Lopez’s Latinx family drama Promised Land are still in production.
“Over the next few months we’ll continue to evaluate that,” he said. “The good news is that we have a year-round development process so we’re focused on the creative versus a very specific timeline. The timeline is not the master of creative quality so giving the showrunners the space they need to do their work is the priority.”
ABC Upfront: Deadline’s Complete Coverage
Erwich, who is now President of ABC Entertainment and Hulu Originals after the December shake-up at the company, also said that finished medical drama pilot Triage, which was given a second cycle pilot order back in February 2020, could still make it to the network.
“We’ll continue to revaluate where we are as pilots come in and we’ll have conversations around Triage,” he said.
However, Erwich admitted that its priority was “stability”.
“We were also focusing quite frankly that Home Economics came back and that was potentially going to be treated as a first-year show given that we only had seven episodes and there’s so much upside. We think stability given that we were the number one network last year is a competitive advantage that we have so unfortunately not every show was able to make the schedule,” he said.
Elsewhere, Erwich revealed why it passed on the untitled Alec Baldwin/Kelsey Grammer multi-camera comedy.
Last month, Deadline revealed that a decision to pass was made after the network’s executives saw the finished pilot episode. The project, starring Baldwin, Grammer and Alec Mapa, had a straight-to-series order. The studio behind the comedy, 20th Television, is now shopping the pilot, written by Modern Family’s Chris Lloyd and Vali Chandrasekaran and directed by James Burrows, to other networks and streamers.
“Alec and Kelsey are incredibly talented performers, it was a year where we made some tough choices around new shows, we had creative that we wanted to focus on that didn’t include Alec and Kelsey,” he said. “It really wasn’t a fit for our audience, ultimately. That doesn’t take away from what Chris Lloyd, Alec and Kelsey accomplished.”
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