LA Screenings 2014: CBS Studios International Slate – What’s Hot & What’s Not

LA Screenings 2014 (FT)

TVWise continues our LA Screenings coverage with a look at the series CBS Studios International are distributing internationally and which ones have buyers talking.

This past week buyers from across the globe descended on Los Angeles to get a taste of what the big six studios (and a number of independent players) have on offer this year. All the major UK broadcasters – from the BBC to Sky through to UKTV – had representatives in town trying to spot the next hit. So which shows are playing well. TVWise presents our run down of which shows are hot and those which, frankly, are not.

In this, the first of six studio rundowns, we take a look at CBS Studios International’s slate. CBSSI had a relatively large and STRONG line up this year. There are new franchise entries CSI: Cyber and NCIS: New Orleans, red hot drama Madam Secretary and the sci-fi drama Extant; all of which are sure to do big business. While on the comedy side the studio is shopping The McCarthys and Matthew Perry’s The Odd Couple. In addition to the 9 shows listed below, CBS Studios International is also distributing new Showtime series The Affair and upcoming CBS mini-series The Dovekeepers.

CSI: Cyber

CSI CyberInspired by the work of Mary Aiken, CSI: Cyber follows FBI Special Agent Avery Ryan (Patricia Arquette), who runs the bureau’s Cyber Crime Division in Quantico, VA. Ryan is responsible for solving high-octane crimes that start in the mind, live on-line, and play out into the real world. CBS Television Studios produces the drama which is executive produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman, Anthony Zuiker, Ann Donahue, Carol Mendelsohn and Pam Veasey.

The latest entry in CBS’ CSI franchise (which once included CSI: Miami and CSI: NY), CSI: Cyber has been generating strong interest from international buyers since it was first announced as being in development. That interest grew when Patricia Arquette – well known to international audiences thanks to her time on the NBC/CBS series Medium – landed the lead role. Suffice to say, the pilot was well received by buyers. Despite what is almost certain to be a short 13 episode first season, there is little doubt that this will travel far and FAST.


ExtantCreated by Mickey Fisher, Extant is a futuristic thriller about a female astronaut (Halle Berry) trying to reconnect with her family when she returns after a year in outer space. Her experiences lead to events that ultimately will change the course of human history. The drama series is being produced by Amblin Television & CBS Television Studios and also stars Camryn Manheim (The Practice), Michael O’Neill (The West Wing), Grace Gummer (The Newsroom), Pierce Gagnon (One Tree Hill), Hiroyuki Sanada (Helix) and Goran Visnjic (ER).

This one is interesting. There were mixed feelings on Extant ahead of the screenings. Some buyers felt that Halle Berry doing a prime-time series was a “sure thing”, while I head from others who were concerned about whether or not last year’s success with Under The Dome could be replicated. The pilot, however, was almost universally well received, with strong performances from Berry and Camryn Manheim. CBSSI was able to sell Under The Dome to more than 200 markets worldwide and based on early buzz Extant could do just as well. This one is HOT.

Jane The Virgin

Jane The VirginPenned by Jennie Snyder Urman, Jane The Virgin picks up when a series of surprising and unforeseen events causes a hard-working, religious young Latina to be accidentally artificially inseminated, The drama is produced by CBS Television Studios and stars Gina Rodriguez, Ivonne Coll, Andrea Navedo, Jaime Camil, Brett Dier, Yael Grobglas, Justin Baldoni and Ryan Devlin. The executive producers are Jennie Snyder Urman, Gary Pearl, Ben Silverman, Brad Silberling and Jorge Granier.

The CW’s shows are always a little trickier than the more mainstream shows for CBS network. There was zero chatter about Jane The Virgin before the screenings and the reception has been mixed, to say the least. The pilot has been described as “light” and “comedic”. One buyer quipped that they though this was The CW’s first attempt at a comedy series. This one’s hard to get a clear read on, but its should do well internationally, particularly in Latin America.

Madam Secretary

Madam SecretaryPenned by Barbara Hall, Madam Secretary follows the personal and professional life of a maverick female Secretary of State as she drives international diplomacy, wrangles office politics and balances a complex family life. The drama is produced by CBS Television Studios and stars Tea Leoni, Tim Daly, Bebe Neuwirth, Erich Bergen, Geoffrey Arend, Patina Miller, Evan Roe and Katherine Herzer. The executive producers are Hall, Morgan Freeman, Tracy Mercer and Lori McCreary.

Even sat alongside CSI and NCIS spin-offs, Madam Secretary has emerged as one of, if not THE, hottest title that CBS Studios International is distributing this year. Buyers have pegged this one as “The West Wing set in the State Department” and its has impressed far and wide. This will be a big seller for the studio, who are expecting deals in every major territory – including the UK.

The McCarthys

The McCarthysThe McCarthys is a multi-camera comedy about a big Irish Catholic, sports-crazed Boston clan and the gay son whose greatest sin is not his sexuality but his desire to spend less time with his family. The comedy series is produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Sony Pictures Television and stars Jack McGee, Joey McIntyre, Laurie Metcalf, Jimmy Dunn and Kelen Coleman. The executive producers are Jimmy Dunn, Joey McIntyre and Kelen Coleman also star. Brian Gallivan, Mike Sikowitz, Will Gluck and Andy Ackerman.

Things have been a little quiet with The McCarthys. Its not generating a lot of talk, but has been described as “funny” and “on tone” for CBS. This one is generating the same level of buzz as We Are Men did this time last year. And while that series did not last long in the US, CBSSI was able to rack up numerous sales before the show was cancelled. This one’s a wait and see job.

The Messengers

The MessengersPenned by Eoghan O’Donnell, The Messengers picks up after a mysterious object crashes on Earth and follows a group of seemingly unconnected strangers who die from an energy pulse from said object. However, they later awaken to learn that they have been deemed responsible for preventing the impending apocalypse. CBS Television Studios is producing with O’Donnell, Iwanyk, Kent Kubena and Ava Jamshidi serving as executive producers. The cast includes Shantel VanSanten, Joel Courtney, Diogo Morgado, Craig Frank, Sofia Black-D’Elia and Jon Fletcher.

Ever since Dawn Ostroff exited the top job at The CW, the network has changed its positioning and sci-fi/genre shows have become the norm. The good news on that front is that those types of shows tend to play well internationally. Like last year’s The 100 (distributed by Warner Bros), The Messengers is generating “keen interest” and CBSSI should rack a decent amount of sales for this one.

NCIS: New Orleans

NCIS New OrleansNCIS: New Orleans is set in the NCIS New Orleans field office, which handles cases from Pensacola through Mississippi and Louisiana to the Texas panhandle. The drama is produced by CBS Television Studios and stars  Scott Bakula (Star Trek: Enterprise, Men Of A Certain Age), CCH Pounder (Warehouse 13, Sons Of Anarchy), Zoe McLellan (JAG, Dirty Sexy Money) and Lucas Black (Fast & Furious). The executive producers are Gary Glasberg and Mark Harmon.

The latest NCIS spin-off, NCIS: New Orleans has been hot for some time and this week it got hotter. With a “strong cast” including Star Trek Enterprise’s Scott Bakula and Warehouse 13‘s CCH Pounder and a desire from international buyers for franchise series – which are often viewed as “bankable ratings hits” – NCIS: New Orleans is widely expected to be the first series from the 2014-2015 season to go global.

The Odd Couple

The Odd CoupleA reboot of the series of the same name, The Odd Couple follows Oscar Madison and Felix Unger, two former college buddies who become unlikely roommates after the demise of their marriages. The half-hour comedy is produced by CBS Television Studios and stars Matthew Perry, Thomas Lennon, Wendell Pierce and Lindsay Sloane. The EPs are Matt Perry, Joe Keenan, Carl Beverly, Sarah Timberman & Eric and Kim Tannenbaum.

The Odd Couple has had a mixed reception. Between comparisons to the original, the fact that the series won’t debut in the US until mid-season and that international buyers are well aware that Matthew Perry has not had a comedy series “stick” since Friends went off the air in the early 2000s, attendees at the screenings seem a little hesitant. Things will become clearer when the dust settles, but while CBSSI will undoubtedly get sales in several key markets (such as Canada), its far from certain that this will become a global hit.


ScorpionFrom Nick Santora and Nicholas Wootton, Scorpion revolves around Walter, an eccentric genius and his international network of super-geniuses who form the last line of defense against the complex threats of the modern age. The drama is produced by CBS Television Studios and stars Elyes Gabel, Robert Patrick, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Ari Stidham and Ernie Hudson. The executive producers are Santora, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Heather Kadin, Scooter Braun and Justin Lin.

While not the standout that Madam Secretary is, Scorpion has played well at the screenings. Some buyers have described the feel of the drama as being “similar to The Mentalist“. A lot of factors are at play with this one: 1) a well rounded pilot 2) a decent cast and 3) the auspices of the creators. All of which are fuelling interest. I’d expect A LOT of international deals on this one.