LA Screenings: Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution 2013-2014 Slate – What’s Hot & What’s Not

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This past week saw the major studios host acquisitions executives from around the globe during the LA Screenings (sometimes referred to as the International Upfronts) where these international buyers screened each studios new shows for the 2013-2014 season. With the screenings now over these executive will start buying up these new series for their own schedules. TVWise continues its coverage of the screenings with its studio-by-studio break down of industry intel (from numerous sources) on which shows are hot and those which, frankly, are not.

Following on from Disney Media Distribution, we take a look at the slate offered to international buyers by Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution. The studio shopped 12 new broadcast shows at this years screenings, including Fox’s limited series’ 24: Live Another Day and Wayward Pines, NBC’s Crisis, 1 animated series, 2 new dramas and 2 new comedies from Fox’s 2013-2014 schedule, two comedies for CBS and a pair of shows picked up by ABC. The general feeling at this year’s screenings has been upbeat as a number of stand out shows have emerged and international buyers are more impressed than they were by last years crop of new shows. Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution has seen early interest and excitement for a decent amount of its new entries and it’s certainly new limited series 24: Live Another Day and drama series Sleepy Hollow that have the most buzz. But which other shows have international buyers been impressed by?

24: Live Another Day

24: Live Another Day is being written by Howard Gordon & David Fury and will be set several years after the events depicted in season 8. Across the 12 episodes, spanning 24 hours, Jack Bauer will be called upon to once again save the day. The limited event series, which Fox said could be followed by additional such entries in the coming years, is being produced by 20th Century Fox Television, Imagine Entertainment and Teakwood Lane Productions. At present the only confirmed cast member is Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer, with Howard Gordon, Brian Grazer and Kiefer Sutherland serving as executive producers.

Arguably the hottest title on Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution’s slate, 24: Live Another Day was in a unique position at the screenings. The just announced limited series doesn’t have a fully assembled writing or production team & beyond Kiefer Sutherland (and 20th Century Fox Television’s desire to get Mary Lynn Rajskub on board) there are no other confirmed cast members in place. So, of course, there was nothing to screen. But that didn’t stop Fox floating it and international buyers are eating up. After all, 24 is a known commodity as a global series. TVWise previously explored the series’ situation in regards to a UK broadcast – but to sum up, it’ll be coming here and it’ll be on Sky1.

Back In The Game

One of several new comedy series ordered by ABC for next season, Back In The Game was written by Robb and Mark Cullen and follows a single mother who temporarily moves in with her estranged father, a beer-swilling former baseball player. She reluctantly starts coaching her son’s underdog Little League team and is drawn back into the world of sports she vowed to leave behind. The comedy series is produced by 20th Century Fox Television and stars James Caan, Maggie Lawson, Griffin Gluck, Ben Koldyke and Lenora Crichlow.

This comedy series is not one that many are talking about. One source said it was “funny” but not something that stood out, especially when stacked up against offerings from other studios and Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution’s own The Crazy Ones. Could that be down to the fact that baseball, a decidedly American past time, features prominently in the series, making it less appealing to international buyers?

Crisis

One of NBC’s new dramas on tap for mid-season, Crisis was written by Rand Ravich and follows a US Secret Service agent who finds himself embroiled in an international crisis on his first day on the job. He will need to cross moral and legal lines as he navigates the highest levels of power and corruption on his search for the truth. The drama is produced by 20th Century Fox Television and stars Lance Gross, Dermot Mulroney, Gillian Anderson, Max Martini, Max Schneider, Halston Sage, Rachael Taylor, Stevie Lynn Jones, Michael Beach, James Lafferty and Joshua Erenberg.

This is one of the hotter dramas on Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution’s slate. It’s been called “well plotted”, “slick” and “fast paced” by my sources and that along with Gillian Anderson in her first regular role on US television since The X-Files (though she has remained very active in the UK) is generating a lot of interest from international buyers. The only concern I’ve heard is that the format of the show doesn’t exactly lend itself to a long running broadcast show.

The Crazy Ones

CBS’ new sitcom The Crazy Ones hails from David E. Kelley and is a father-daughter workplace comedy set in an advertising agency. The series is about a larger-than-life advertising genius whose unorthodox methods and unpredictable behavior would get him fired… if he weren’t the boss. Simon Roberts is the head of a powerful agency, with the biggest clients and brands in the world, but even more important to him is that his daughter Sydney is by his side. As his partner, Sydney is Simon’s exact opposite – focused, organized and eager to make a name for herself, but also too busy parenting her father, which she’d resent if he wasn’t so brilliant at what he does. The comedy series is produced by 20th Century Fox Television and stars Robin Williams, Sarah Michelle Gellar, James Wolk, Hamish Linklater and Amanda Setton.

It’s got Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar, need I say more? The Crazy Ones had a lot of hype surrounding it before the screenings began and, fortunately, it lived up to it. I hear that it was well received across the board and given the star power of the two leads and the series creator, is that really a surprise? I’d expect Fox to do a lot of business on this one.

Dads

One of the new comedies ordered by sister network Fox, Dads was created by Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild & Seth MacFarlane and received a six episode straight-to-series order five months ago. The comedy series is a multi-camera comedy which follows two successful guys in their 30s who have their lives turned upside down when their nightmare dads unexpectedly move in with them. Dads is produced by 20th Century Fox Television and stars Seth Green, Giovanni Ribisi, Martin Mull, Peter Riegert, Brenda Song, Tonita Castro and Vanessa Lachey.

Owing to the fact that it hails from Seth MacFarlane and his Ted cohorts and received a straight-to-series order from Fox execs when most networks were still deciding on pilot orders, the series had a lot of hype surrounding it. As often happens, however, I hear that it failed to live up to much of that hype and left some buyers disappointed. Between MacFarlane’s name and acting talent such as Martin Mull and Peter Riegert they were expecting more. Another source pointed to the shorter than usual episode order (6 rather than the standard 13) as causing some hesitation.

Enlisted

Another comedy series that 20th Century Fox Television is producing for sister network Fox, Enlisted was penned by Kevin Biegel and revolves around three very different brothers working together on a small Army base in Florida. At the center of the comedy is Sergeant Pete Waits who gets transferred from Afghanistan back to a base in Florida after an altercation with a superior officer. It’s at this base that he is handed a tough assignment – leading his brother’s squad. The series is produced by 20th Century Fox Television and stars Geoff Stults, Keith David, Parker Young, Chris Lowell and Angelique Cabral

Enlisted has been received well by those who screened it this past week. It’s by no means the hottest comedy on the slate offered by Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution, but sources say that the pilot was funny and featured some “unique” characters. Add to that The Finder star Geoff Stults and its easy to see why Enlisted has gotten some international buyers talking.

Friends With Better Lives

Friends With Better Lives is one of two new comedy series which 20th Century Fox Television is producing for CBS. The sitcom was created by Dana Klein and revolves around a group of thirtysomething friends who each think the other has it better. The comedy series stars James Van Der Beek, Zoe Lister, Brooklyn Decker, Rick Donald, Kevin Connolly and Majandra Delfino.

Behind The Crazy Ones, this seems to be Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution’s hottest new series on the comedy side. I hear it has been well received by most who have seen it and looks like it will be a strong commodity for the studio. The star power of James Van Der Beek seems to be at play with buyers when it comes to this series. “Come on, it’s the Beek”, one source quipped.

Gang Related

One of the four new drama series ordered by sister network Fox for their 2013-2014 schedule, Gang Related was created by Chris Morgan and follows a gang member who is sent to infiltrate the San Francisco Police Department and rises through its ranks. He soon learns that he must balance his obligations to his crime family with an increasing sense of loyalty to his new “family” — the SFPD’s Gang Task Force. The series is produced by 20th Century Fox Television & Imagine TV and stars Ramon Rodriguez, Terry O’Quinn, Sung Kang, Inbar Lavi, Jay Hernandez, RZA, Cliff Curtis and Shantel VanSanten.

Gang Related is one of the new dramas ordered by the Fox network this season and has some solid buzz coming out of the LA Screenings. The pilot has been generally well received though some buyers have apparently been disappointed by what they saw. The hype on this one was pretty heavy and that, it seems, was to its detriment. One source described Gang Related as being “The Shield, but with less interesting characters.”

Mind Games

One of ABC’s new drama series, Mind Games was created by Kyle Killen and is a provocative workplace ensemble centered on the complicated relationship between two brothers who head a unique agency designed to attack their clients’ problems using the real science of human motivation and manipulation. The drama series is produced by 20th Century Fox Television and stars Christian Slater, Steve Zahn, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Cedric Sanders, Gregory Marcel and Wynn Everett.

Like Gang Related, Mind Games has some excitement surrounding it, but it’s by no means one of the hottest shows at this year’s LA Screenings. A source has described it as a mash up between Lie To Me and The Mentalist. Despite the soft buzz, I still expect this to do fairly well for the studio. But overall there seems to be some hesitation over this series. Could the so-called Christian Slater curse be on buyers minds?

Murder Police

A new animated series which Fox has ordered for its mid-season schedule, Murder Police was created by David A. Goodman and Jason Ruiz and follows a dedicated, but inept detective and his colleagues – some perverted, some corrupt, some just plain lazy – in a twisted city police precinct. The animated comedy is produced by Bento Box Animation & 20th Century Fox Television and features the voices of Jason Ruiz, Will Sasso, Chi McBride, Jane Lynch, Phil LaMarr, Peter Atencio and Justina Machado.

It’s pretty much silent running on this one. Animated tends to take a back seat to live-action as it is, but Bob’s Burgers failed to be much of an international hit – we previously broke the news that UK broadcaster Channel 4 had dropped the series due to poor ratings – and international buyers are a bit more cautious with new animated entries because of it. Still, Murder Police is not slated to premiere until mid-season, so there’s still plenty of time for it to gain some momentum with international buyers.

Sleepy Hollow

Another new drama for sister network Fox, Sleepy Hollow is based on The Legend of the Sleepy Hollow and was written by Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci. The drama follows Ichabod Crane as he partners with Sleepy Hollow’s local female sheriff to solve the mysteries of a town ravaged by the battle between good and evil. The drama series is produced by 20th Century Fox Television & K/O Paper Products and stars Tom Mison, John Cho, Orlando Jones, Katia Winter and Nicole Beharie.

This is one of the hottest series on Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution’s slate and has been generating almost as much interest as 24: Live Another Day. I hear that Sleepy Hollow was well received across the board, with one source saying it “blew me away”. This drama seems like it will do very well on the international market – and I would call a UK sale a sure thing as I’m told that Channel 5 and Sky has their eyes on it even before they attended the screenings. This is one of a number of pilots I had the chance to screen over the last week and here’s my two cents: the hype surrounding Sleepy Hollow, both before the Upfronts and now after the LA Screenings, is certainly justified.

Wayward Pines

Wayward Pines is one of two limited series that Fox has on tap for 2014 (the other being 24: Live Another Day). The series is based on Blake Crouch’s best-selling novel Pine and follows US Secret Service agent Ethan Burke as he arrives in the bucolic town of Wayward Pines, ID, on a mission to find two missing federal agents. But instead of answers, Ethan’s investigation only turns up more questions. What’s wrong with Wayward Pines? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the life he knew, from the husband and father he was, until he must face the terrifying reality that he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive. The limited series is being produced by FX Productions and stars Matt Dillon as US Secret Service agent Ethan Burke.

This limited series is in the same position as 24: Live Another Day. There was no finished product to screen, but Fox still floated it to buyers. Unlike the 24 limited series, however, the buzz around this one is soft for now. Part of that is due to the fact that there is only one announced cast member at present and that Wayward Pines won’t air on Fox until Summer 2014. As such I’d expect more buzz about this one at the 2014 LA Screenings. Right now, international buyers are keeping a close eye on this project, which one source has dubbed “Twin Peaks 2.0“.