NETWORK PILOTS RUN FROM 'QUIRKY' TO 'HOLLYWEIRD': CAPTURING A YOUTHFUL VIEWING AUNDIENCE MORE GLITZ THAN SCIENCE
The tv networks development crop, according to the buzz, is "quirky."
That's the word that network executives are using most often to describe a variety of pilot orders that feature edgy concepts. Pilots set in Antarctica, white-trash trailer parks, the distant future and Hades are all being labeled "quirky," as are pilots featuring puppets, claymation, the 1970s and unconventional stars.
"The networks all feel that they are not at a stage where they can just do a show like another show," says Paul Schulman, senior VP-manager of creative services, Saatchi & Saatchi, New York. Copycat shows "just can't break through with all the viewing choices we have today. It has to not only be good, but different. I was very buoyed by the amount of the money, the amount of projects in development."
Of course, most pilots haven't been shot yet.
"Everybody is trying to turn things around, and everybody is optimistic," says Bill Croasdale, exec VP at Western International Media West Hollywood, Calif. "But until it's announced formally, it's tough to speculate."
"ATF" (Columbia TriStar). Amy Brenneman and Kathy Baker are ATF agents.
"Black Jaq" (Columbia TriStar). From Miles Millar, Al Gough and Dawn Lewis and directed by Forrest Whitaker. Black female action hero in New Orleans.
"Cupid" (Columbia TriStar/Mandalay). A fallen god unites lovers.
"Fantasy Island" (Columbia TriStar). Barry Sonnenfeld and Barry Josephson's take on the 1970s show.
"The Game" (Twentieth). From John Tinker and Bill D'Elia. Luke Perry stars as a hotshot sports agent.
"Honolulu Cru" (Touchstone). From Avnet-Kerner and Mark Haskell-Smith, about crime reduction unit detectives in Honolulu.
"Johnny X" (Touchstone/Sandollar). Dustin Nguyen stars in this kickboxing action drama.
"Real Life" (Columbia TriStar). Updated "Big Chill" about twentysomething friends who reunite at a friend's funeral.
"Strange Days" (Twentieth). Starring Michael Moriarty. Investigators try to stop technology gone bad.
"Vengeance Unlimited" (Warner Bros.) Michael Madsen stars as a man who seeks revenge for those who have been wronged.
"Brother's Keeper" (USA Networks Studios). Justin Cooper stars in this updated "Odd Couple" about two brothers.
"Carson's Vertical Suburbia" (Columbia TriStar). From Dan Palladino, Barry Sonnenfeld and Barry Josephson. A young boy lives with his family in a Manhattan high rise.
"Charmed Life" (Big Ticket). From Warren Bell, about a Manhattan man whose sister is a soap opera star.
"The Hanleys" (Brillstein-Grey). Multigenerational family comedy.
"Home" (DreamWorks). A couple inherits three children, aged 16, 12 and 10.
"It's Like, You Know" (DreamWorks). From Peter Mehlman and Ted Harbert, starring Jennifer Grey and A.J. Langer. Life in Los Angeles as seen through the eyes of a New Yorker.
"In the Loop" (Touchstone). About a group of friends consisting of three guys and three girls.
"Kirk Franklin Show" (USA Networks Studios). From Ralph Farquhar. The gospel singer stars as an ex-con who runs a church choir.
"Love, American Style" (Paramount). From Barry Kemp and Robin Schiff, hour-long anthology based on the 1970s series.
"The Man Show" (Stone Stanley). One hour sketch comedy show hosted by "Loveline's" Adam Corolla and "Win Ben Stein's Money's" Jimmy Kimmel.
"Mary Tyler Moore Show" (Twentieth). Ms. Moore and Valerie Harper reprise their '70s roles.
"Modern Man" (Twentieth). From Danny Jacobson and Howard Weitzman. Domestic comedy with Chris Meloni as a car salesman.
"Putting Two and Two Together" (Warner Bros./Miller-Boyett-Warren). "Full House's" Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen get their own show.
"Secret Lives of Men" (Witt-Thomas). From Susan Harris and Jill Franklin, starring Peter Gallagher as one of three guys who are best friends.
"Sports Night" (Touchstone). From Aaron Sorkin, a behind-the-scenes look at a TV sports news show.
Untitled D.L. Hughley project (Greenblatt/Janollari). From Matt Wickline, about an African-American family that moves to the suburbs.
Untitled Jon Lovitz project (Touchstone). Starring the "Saturday Night Live" veteran.
"Affairs of the Heart" (Twentieth). Rich divorcee teams up with an ex-cop to spy on cheating spouses. Actor Chazz Palminteri co-produces.
"Bronx County" (Paramount). From John Sacret Young, Barry Schindel, Thomas Carter and Sydney Pollack, about legal aide lawyers in the Bronx.
"Buddy Faro" (Spelling). Dennis Farina stars as a private investigator who dropped out in the '70s but teams up with a hotshot small-time investigator in the '90s.
"The Family Brood" (Rysher). Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana produce this drama about a family of firefighters, starring Brian Cox.
"L.A. Docs" (Columbia TriStar/CBS Productions). Ken Olin and Sheryl Lee star in drama about three guys, a girl and a medical practice.
"Matthew" (Rysher). Mackenzie Astin stars as a mysterious hospital patient who escapes to explore the world.
"Repair Shop" (Columbia TriStar/Rysher/Tribeca). Anthony LaPaglia is a genius who takes on his employer, a shadowy agency made up of rogue CIA agents, after they kill his family.
"Skip Chasers" (Twentieth). Arsenio Hall and George Eads are unlikely bounty hunter partners in Los Angeles. From "X-Files" Glen Morgan and James Wong.
"Texarkana" (Paramount). From John Sacret Young and Toni Graphia. Ensemble show set in small border state town.
"To Have and to Hold" (CBS Productions/Greenblatt Janollari). Romantic comedy/drama starring Moira Kelly and Sean O'Brien as a couple frequently at odds with one another.
"Turks" (USA Networks Studios). From Robert Singer. Father and his three sons in Chicago.
"Becker" (Paramount). Ted Danson plays an outspoken doctor. (possibly for midseason)
"Better Days" (Columbia TriStar). "Roger & Me's" Michael Moore produces this comedy about a down-on-their-luck working class family in Wisconsin. Starring Jim Belushi.
"By Anne Nivel" (Twentieth). Marcia Gay Harden as a struggling fashion designer. From Jeffrey Klarik and Danny Jacobson.
"Carly" (Twentieth). Heather Paige Kent is a high school graduate from Brooklyn who's promoted from the mailroom to advertising VP.
"Fifty-Fifty" (Paramount). From Ken Levine, David Isaacs and Dave Hackel, about two high school friends who reunite 25 years later.
"The King of Queens" (Columbia TriStar). Comedian Kevin James is a married man whose father-in-law and sister-in-law move in.
"Ladies' Man" (Columbia TriStar). A man's man is surrounded by women: his wife, two daughters, mother and mother-in-law. From "The Naked Truth's" Chris Thompson.
"Late Bloomer" (CBS Productions). Lisa Ann Walter is a stay-at-home mother who lands a spot on a TV show hosted by Julia Duffy. From Jonathan Axelrod, Jamie Widdoes and Chris Thompson.
"Local Zeroes" (CBS Productions/Columbia TriStar). Dave Coulier and Pat Finn are bungling home contractors.
"Maggie Winters" (Greenblatt-Janollari). Sitcom starring "Murphy Brown's" Faith Ford.
"Marry My Mom" (Columbia TriStar). From Sally Robinson, about a girl who tries to set up her widowed mom.
"Me and George" (Witt-Thomas). Melanie Griffith stars as a New York publicist and single mother.
Untitled Brian Benben project (Warner Bros./CBS Productions). Brian Benben stars as a demoted anchorman who's replaced by a Ken-and-Barbie team but vows to get his job back.
Untitled John Larroquette project (USA Network Studios). John Larroquette stars as Royal Payne in this series based on John Cleese's "Fawlty Towers."
"Astoria" (Twentieth). From Jason Katims and Mark Piznarski, about a son trying to take control of his dad's Greek crime family.
"Bad Cop, Bad Cop" (Touchstone). From Stan Rogow and Jon Favreau, about two Los Angeles detectives with bad attitudes.
"Blade Squad" (Warner Bros.) Conceived by the late Brandon Tartikoff, about futuristic cops on in-line skates.
"Brimstone" (Warner Bros.) Peter Horton stars as a dead cop who must recapture souls that have escaped from hell.
"Daybreak" (Twentieth). From Bob Greenblatt and David Janollari, about an astronaut who's a '90s "Six Million Dollar Man."
"Ghost Cop" (PolyGram). A woman cop is partnered with the spirit of a murdered man.
"Hollyweird" (USA Networks Studios). From Shaun Cassidy and Wes Craven, starring Bodhi Elfman, Fab Filippo and Melissa George. Two twentysomethings fight supernatural beings in Los Angeles, and then make a show about it.
"The Invisible Man" (USA Networks Studios). From Dick Wolf. Kyle MacLachlan in title role.
"900 Lives of Jackie Frye" (USA Networks Studios). Two brothers at a greeting card factory, one has Walter Mitty fantasies.
"Applewood 911" (Brillstein-Grey). An offbeat group of cops patrol the American heartland.
"Dave Chappelle Show" (Touchstone). From Peter Tolan, starring Mr. Chappelle as a comic who moves to New York from Washington.
"Cheap Shots" (Twentieth). From Joss Whedon, set behind-the-scenes at a B-movie film studio.
"Five Houses" (Twentieth). Neighbors with conflicting values in a suburban cul-de-sac.
"Futurama" (Twentieth). From Matt Groening, a prime-time animated series about life in the year 3000.
"Holding the Baby" (Twentieth/Granada). From Howard Morris and Jamie Widdoes, about a workaholic father stuck alone with a baby.
"Living in Captivity" (Shukovsky-English Entertainment). An African-American family moves into an upper middle-class gated community in California.
"Paula" (Twentieth). Paula Poundstone stars as a Los Angeles TV reporter raising two foster kids.
"P.J.'s" (Imagine/Touchstone). Set to air in midseason 1999, "foamation" sitcom with Eddie Murphy supplying the voice of the lead character, a building superintendent in the projects.
"Some Guys" (Touchstone). Romantic comedy about women looking for Mr. Right.
"Soul Food" (Twentieth). From Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and others, based on the film.
Untitled Sue Costello project (Touchstone). From Wind Dancer Productions, the comedian stars as a bartender in a blue-collar South Boston bar.
Untitled Mike O'Malley project (Warner Bros.) The comedian stars as the manager of a New Hampshire restaurant.
Untitled Turners project (Carsey-Werner). From Bonnie and Terry Turner, a sitcom set in the 1970s about a group of teens in rural Wisconsin.
"You" (Brillstein-Grey). From Bill Maher and Jim Vallely, a half-hour mix of game shows, karaoke and situation comedy that features an ensemble cast and guest stars.
"Adversaries" (Warner Bros.) From John Wells and Paul Manning, a drama about a Washington prosecutor and an attorney, starring Lou Diamond Phillips and Gina Ravera.
"Cold Feet" (Granada/NBC Studios). Comedy-drama about three thirtysomething couples.
"Man-Made" (Touchstone/NBC Studios). Female team fights technology gone awry.
"Odd Jobs" (Spelling). From Roger Avery, starring Patrick Dempsey. Streetwise guys do jobs for the mob.
"Providence" (NBC Studios). From John Masius ("Touched by an Angel"). Los Angeles plastic surgeon moves back to her New England hometown.
"Trinity" (Warner Bros.) From John Wells and Matthew Carnahan, starring Tate Donovan. A contemporary Irish family in New York's Hell's Kitchen.
"West Wing" (Warner Bros.) Midseason entry from John Wells, about young White House aides.
"Wind on Water" (NBC Studios). From Zalman King ("Red Shoe Diaries"). and Matt George, about surfing.
"Advances in Chemistry" (Castle Rock). Two private school teens in New York befriend an intriguing girl.
"All My Life" (Warner Bros.) From Bright/Kauffman/Crane and Ira Ungerleider, about a single mother who lives down the street from her childhood home. Thirteen episode guarantee.
"All Together Now" (Paramount). From Kelsey Grammer and others, about a blue collar man who falls in love with an uptown concert pianist.
"Blind Men" (Granada/NBC Studios). From John Markus, about a salesman who finds a new foe.
"Brothers and Sisters" (Big Ticket). From Ellen Simon, about two brothers who marry two sisters.
"Encore!" (Paramount). From Angell/Casey/Lee, Chuck Ranberg and Anne Flett-Giordano, with Nathan Lane as a former opera singer who retires to Napa Valley, Calif. Guaranteed a Tuesday or Thursday spot.
"Everything's Relative" (Witt-Thomas/NBC Studios). Quirky family sitcom from Mitch Hurwitz.
"Ice" (Paramount). Quirky team of scientists in Antarctica. "MASH" meets "Northern Exposure."
"Jersey" (Brillstein-Grey/NBC Studios). From Danny Zucker, set in a catering hall.
"Nearly Yours" (DreamWorks/3 Sisters). From Tom Leopold and Jim Burrows, starring Heather Burns as a woman who bonds with her uptight boss.
"Overseas" (Brillstein-Grey). From Paul Simms, about Peace Corps volunteers.
"Sugar Daddies" (Touchstone/Imagine/NBC Studios). Two regular guys become instant billionaires.
"Us?" (DreamWorks). From Jeff Astrof and Mike Sikowitz. Romantic comedy.
"Will & Grace" (NBC Studios). Starring Eric McCormack and Mara Hingle as a girl and her gay best friend.
Untitled Bill Bellamy project (USA Networks Studios). From Ralph Farquhar and Mark Driscoll, with Mr. Bellamy as a movie critic.
Untitled Paul Reubens project (Touchstone/Imagine). Half-hour variety show with the former Pee-wee Herman. (pushed to midseason)
Untitled Rob Lowe project (Paramount). From Mort Nathan and Barry Fanaro, with Mr. Lowe as a conservative guy who runs a restaurant.
"They have a lot of development, much more than they need to go on the air," Mr. Schulman says of WB, which is still mulling Fridays as a fifth night. "They have a very directed plan as to what shows go in what time periods; they appear to know where they're going."
"Felicity" (Imagine/Touchstone). From J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves, Keri Russell stars as a freshman at New York University, described as "Ally McBeal in college."
"Bloomington, Indiana" (Warner Bros.) From John Ridley. Coach takes over a Division I basketball team in this "White Shadow" update.
"Charmed" (Spelling). Shannen Doherty stars as one of three sisters who discover they're good witches.
"Hyperion" (Warner Bros.) Sibling rivalry tale about the older brother who never left home and the younger brother (Mark-Paul Gosselaar). who returns to start a multimillion-dollar computer company.
"Rescue Twenty-One" (Spelling). Victor Browne, Christian Kane and Marjorie Monaghan star as aggressive paramedics.
"The Army Show" (Castle Rock). John Sencio and Dave Higgins are misfit army recruits at an unorthodox southern Gulf Coast military base.
"Baby Blues" (Warner Bros.) Animated sitcom based on the comic strip about parenthood. Mike O'Malley and Julia Sweeney supply voices.
"Brothers" (Castle Rock). From Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein, animated series about a high school senior who moves in with his New York brother.
"Madness Reigns" (Warner Bros.) Tim Curry stars as a foreign leader exiled to New York with his family, some of whom are puppet creations from the Jim Henson Co.
"Movie Stars" (USA Networks Studios). A famous couple struggle to raise three kids.
"1973" (USA Networks Studios). Three high school girls face life in the year 1973.
"Tasty Sensations" (Warner Bros.) MTV veejay Idalis opens a catering business with her two friends. Based on executive producer Bentley Evans' wife.
"Zoe Bean" (Touchstone). Selma Blair stars as a young woman growing up in New York.
Untitled Park Overall project (Warner Bros.) The "Empty Nest" star plays an opinionated Philadelphia talk radio host.
Untitled Paul Rodriguez project (Warner Bros.) The comedian and his real-life son star in this domestic sitcom.
"UPN is talking about moving from three nights to five, which is quite an undertaking," Mr. Schulman says. "So they have their work cut out for them."
"Boston Grace" (All American). From Martha Coolidge. Two female cops in Boston.
"Desert Heat" (Touchstone). Drama about two detectives. (pushed to midseason)
"Hotel del Sol" (Greenblatt/Janollari). "Hotel" at a Caribbean resort.
"Legacy" (Atlantis). Set in a Kentucky horse farm.
"Martian Law" (Rysher). "Gunsmoke" on Mars. A U.S. marshall tries to maintain order on the high-tech frontier.
"Mercy Point" (Columbia TriStar/Mandalay). "ER" in space, based on "Nightengale One."
"Seven Days" (Paramount). From Chris Crowe, starring Jonathan LaPaglia. Time travel is used to avert disasters.
"Dilbert" (Columbia TriStar). From Larry Charles and Scott Adams. Thirteen episode order of this animated series, based on the hit comic strip.
"DiResta" (Paramount). From Matt Goldman, based on John DiResta's life as a New York transit cop.
"Emily's Men" (Columbia TriStar). Domestic comedy that examines three different male perspectives on women, family and home.
"Extra Sauce" (Viacom). Female buddy series about full-figured local cooking show hosts.
"Furry Creatures" (Touchstone). From Ron Leavitt, animated comedy in the "South Park" vein.
"Just Us Men" (Unaffiliated). From Dan Schneider. 6-year-old moves in with two hip twentysomething guys.
"Nicki" (Castle Rock). An estranged mother and daughter reunite.
"Redneck Riviera" (Castle Rock). Set at a seaside trailer park on the Gulf Coast, about the offbeat lives of the not-so rich and famous.
"Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer" (Paramount). From Mort Nathan and Barry Fanaro. Period satire about the cook in the Lincoln White House.
Michael Schneider is a staff reporter for Electronic Media