NBC greenlights six drama pilots

After retreating from the drama series genre this season to launch five nights of the ill-fated "The Jay Leno Show" at 10 p.m., NBC is bringing in big drama guns for next fall, greenlighting pilots from David E. Kelley, Jerry Bruckheimer, "House" creator David Shore and "Without a Trace" creator Hank Steinberg.

At its TCA presentation Sunday, the network announced it had picked up six drama pilots, in addition to the previously ordered J.J. Abrams drama "Undercovers" and legal dramedy "Rex Is Not Your Lawyer."

The new pickups include Steinberg's remake of the icon British drama "Prime Suspect," Shore's updated version of the classic "The Rockford Files," Kelley's legal drama "Kindreds," the Bruckheimer-produced action procedural "Chase," as well as romantic comedy "Love Bites," from "Sex and the City" alumna Cindy Chupack, and thriller "The Event" from Nick Wauters.

Additionally, Abrams has signed on to direct "Undercovers," about a husband-and-wife duo of spies, which he penned with Josh Reims.

"In a very short time, we have been able to bring tremendous talent to NBC," said the network's primetime entertainment president Angela Bromstad who rejoined NBC in January.

NBC had planned to order 10 drama pilots for next season. That number is not going to change despite the exit of "Jay Leno" from primetime, Bromstad said. The network is not expected to heavily populate 10 p.m. with dramas, with 2-3 hourlong scripted series earmarked for the time slot next fall and the rest of the 10 p.m. hours going to reality, newsmagazines or repeats.

Overall, NBC will launch 3-4 new drama series next season, Bromstad said.

Among the contenders for the remaining couple of slots on the network's drama pilot slate are "Midnighters," based on the Alloy book series, and the Dick Wolf-produced "Sam & Twitch." NBC also is developing a Los Angeles-set "Law & Order" series eyed for fall.

-- "Kindreds," written on spec by Kelley, follows a curmudgeonly ex-patent lawyer and his group of misfit associates as their lives come together to form an unconventional kind of law practice. The project, from Warner Bros. TV and David E. Kelley Prods., was taken to NBC on Tuesday and, in a competitive situation, NBC closed a deal Friday. The pickup of "Kindreds" doesn't affect the chances of "Rex," which recently completed its pilot, said NBC primetime entertainment president Angela Bromstad, noting that she would love to have two legal shows on the air that are working.

-- "Prime Suspect," from UMS and ITV, centers on a courageous female detective who investigates complex mysteries in a politically explosive big city. Steinberg and Erwin Stoff are executive producing.

-- The new "Rockford Files," from UMS and Steve Carell's Carousel Prods., centers on Jim Rockford, a roguish private eye who tackles the dangerous, quirky and unpredictable cases that no other detective wants to handle. Shore and Carell are exec producing.

-- "The Event," from UMS, features multiple points of view and follows a regular fellow throw in a large government conspiracy. Steve Stark is exec producing, with Wauters co-exec producing.

-- "Chase," from WBTV and Jerry Bruckheimer TV, based on a real-life group in the American Southwest, follows a fugitive apprehension team of U.S. Marshals that tracks down the nation's most notorious criminals. Jennifer Johnson wrote the script and is exec producing with Bruckheimer and Jonathan Littman.

-- "Love Bites," from UMS and Working Title Films, is exec produced by Chupack, Timothy Bevan, Eric Fellner and Shelley.

On the comedy side, the network has picked up one project so far, a single-camera comedy starring Adam Carolla.

Peter Oberth
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