LA Screenings: NBCUniversal International Television Distribution 2013-2014 Slate – What’s Hot & What’s Not

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Last week the LA Screenings were in full swing and saw acquisitions executives from broadcasters around the globe descend on the city of angels where they were hosted by the bigger studios and screened the pilots for the new shows ordered by the five broadcast networks for the 2013-2014 season. With the screenings now behind us, which shows look destined to land those ever lucrative international sales? TVWise continues its coverage of the annual industry event with our studio-by-studio break down of industry intel (from numerous sources) on which shows are hot and those which, frankly, are not.

In this fourth run down (following similar coverage for CBS Studios International, Disney Media Distribution and Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution) we take a look at the slate of new shows being offered by NBCUniversal International Television Distribution (NBCUITD). The distributor is shopping 7 new shows at the LA Screenings (we only list 6 below, as one of those is Dracula which is a co-production with BSkyB’s Sky Living) including NBC’s new series About A Boy, Chicago PD, The Family Guide, Ironside & Sean Saves The World and Fox’s comedy series Brooklyn Nine-Nine. NBCUniversal International Television Distribution has a decent slate this year, with a couple of shows having produced strong interest. But which of their five new shows have international buyers talking?

About A Boy

One of several new comedy series order by NBC for next season, About A Boy is based on the Nick Hornby book and the 2002 feature film of the same name and follows the relationship between a bachelor man-child named Will and the young boy who moves in next door with his kooky single mother Fiona. Universal Television, True Jack Productions, Working Title Productions and Tribeca Productions are producing the comedy which stars David Walton, Minnie Driver, Anjelah N. Johnson, Benjamin Stockham and Al Madrigal.

The buzz on About A Boy is solid. Adaptation can be a tricky needle to thread but according to my sources Parenthood creator Jason Katims has done so successfully. One source called it a “heartwarming and funny” series. It has a decent cast and Katims name is well known to international buyers due to the aforementioned Parenthood. The chatter on this one is softer than it was before the screenings, but it still looks like it will be a big seller.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

This is the second comedy series (the other being The Mindy Project) that Universal Television is producing for Fox since they stopped producing for only NBCU owned networks and became (once again) a full-service studio. Created by Dan Goor and Mike Schur, Brooklyn Nine-Nine follows a diverse group of detectives in a police precinct in New York City. The comedy series is produced by Universal Television and stars Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher, Melissa Fumero, Terry Crews, Stephanie Beatriz, Joe Lo Truglio and Chelsea Peretti.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine had some decent buzz surrounding it before the upfronts and the screenings – owing in large part to Samberg and Andre Braugher – and for the most part it seems to have live up to it. I hear that it was generally well received, though some buyers didn’t like what they saw. On the whole, it’s being hailed as “really funny” and should do well internationally. Also Andre Braugher’s performance has been highlighted as very strong.

Chicago PD

The spin-off of NBC recently renewed Chicago Fire, Chicago PD was initially piloted as an episode of the parent series and aired earlier this month. Penned by Derek Haas and Michael Brandt, Chicago PD follows the daily lives of the brave officers of the Chicago Police Department. The drama is produced by Universal Television & Wolf Films and stars Tania Raymonde, Scott Eastwood, Kelly Blatz and Melissa Sagemiller.

The backdoor-pilot episode for Chicago PD aired during the midst of upfronts week and, as such, there was not the heavy buzz you usually see for a spin-off heading into the screenings. Another reason for that, I hear, is the frankly unusual step of spinning off a series after only one season on the air. Because of that there is some hesitation amongst buyers. But on the whole, I’m told that buyers are fairly high on this and like what they’ve seen. I wouldn’t be surprised if sales on this is softer than NBCU is hoping for though.

The Family Guide

Created by DJ Nash, The Family Guide follows son who idolizes his blind father and is bemused by his mother’s newfound adolescence watches his family come closer together post-divorce. The comedy is produced by Universal Television & Aggregate Films and stars Parker Posey, JK Simmons, Harold Perrineau, Eli Baker and Ava Deluca-Verley.

This is another of NBC’s new comedy series and was one of the first pilots that the network picked up to series. The buzz on this one from international buyers on this one is pretty soft. More than one source said that the concept was a good one, but wasn’t as funny as they’d hoped. Given that very few people are talking about this one, it’s hard to get a clear read on its sales prospects. This is a wait and see job.

Ironside

A reboot of the 1960s series of the same name, Ironside follows a tough, sexy and acerbic police detective relegated to a wheelchair after a shooting. He pushes and prods his hand-picked team to solve the most difficult cases in the city. The drama series is produced by Universal Television and stars Blair Underwood, Spencer Grammer, Kenneth Choi, Pablo Schreiber, Brent Sexton and Neal Bledsoe.

Next to Chicago PD, Ironside has the strongest buzz and seems to be the hottest new drama series being floated to international buyers by NBCUniversal International Television Distribution. Several sources have pegged this as a strong character driven show, highlighting the performance of Blair Underwood as the re-imagined Ironside. There seems little doubt that this series will sell well internationally.

Sean Saves The World

Another new comedy series for sister network NBC, Sean Saves The World was penned by Victor Fresco and follows Sean, who must figure out how to parent his 14-year-old daughter, who just moved in, while navigating a temperamental new boss at work. The series is produced by Universal Television & Hazy Mills and stars Sean Hayes, Thomas Lennon, Linda Lavin, Echo Kellum, Samantha Isler, Lindsay Sloane and Vik Sahay.

Sean Saves The World is Sean Hayes first series regular role since Will & Grace went off the air and as such had a lot of hype going into the screenings. Fortunately it lived up to it. I haven’t heard a single negative remark about this show and it seems to be one of the best received for not only NBCUniversal International Television Distribution but of any studio. In short, Sean Saves The World is hot and looks like it will be a big seller for NBCUITD.