Pilot season is in full swing right now, and while any one of the new pilots currently in development could be the one to potentially replace “Community” or “Parks and Recreation” (boo!), the casting news coming out of pilot season so far has been eye-pleasing, at the very least. There are no guarantees that any of these pilots will be picked up next year, but given the personalities attached, there are quite a few that are not too difficult to envision working. The networks, too, may be beginning to understand cable has already picked up: The dullards may passively tune into “Two and a Half Men” on a weekly basis, but what’s most important in our DVR-driven television audiences are shows with followings, shows that attract viewers that want to watch live, that watch in groups, and that buy the DVDs, and that watch on Hulu, where it’s more difficult to avoid advertisements. That’s not even to mention the fact that two affluent viewers are probably more valuable than one non-affluent person, which is likely why “Parenthood” is still airing.
Conventional wisdom also suggests that, while movies are man’s medium, television is a woman’s. You want to attract more women? You need more female-centered shows. And he great thing about female-centered shows featuring attractive, smart women is that they often cast attract smart, attractive men as the romantic interests. Sometimes, they even take off their shirts. TK already hit upon one of the bigger castings this pilot season: Adrienne Palicki will play “Wonder Woman.” Here are a few more that it’s not too early to get a little excited about, at least in some cases.
Kristen Bell, “House of Lies.” In “House of Lies,” Bell will star opposite Don Cheadle in a comedy based on the book, House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Tell You the Time. Cheadle will play one of those cutthroat consultants, and Bell will play an Ivy-leaguer who works at the firm.
Zooey Deschanel, “Untitled Comedy” for Fox. I’m not sure why Deschanel is moving to television; it would seem that her film career is doing just fine. But she’s set to star in this pilot from No Strings Attached screenwriter, Liz Meriweather, that will explore “the sexual politics of men and women.” The No Strings Attached screenwriter doesn’t exactly offer a lot of promise, but Deschanel plus “sexual politics” sounds like a solid combination.
Mario Bello, “Prime Suspect.” It was announced this morning that Maria Bello has been cast as the lead in the remake of a British televisions show, “Prime Suspect,” in the role originated by Helen Mirren. It’s about a tough, self-destructive police detective, and the British series was phenomenal. Casting Mario Bello in the role is a solid first step in duplicating that for American television. I’d expect to see this on Monday nights, replacing either “The Event” or “Chuck,” both of which are doubtful for another season.
Laura Prepon, “Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea.” There’s good and bad in this casting: Prepon is likable, but not a great actress. She does, however, seem to be a nice fit to play the lead here, a character based on Chelsea Handler. Unfortunately, it’s a multi-camera sitcom, which is rarely good. And if it succeeds, expect it to vie for one of the Thursday night slots on NBC.
Rachel Bilson, “Hart of Dixie.” The television version of Mila Kunis will reteam with her “The O.C.” showrunner, Josh Schwartz, for this horrible sounding CW show, a comedic drama centered on a young New York City doctor who inherits a medical practice in a small Southern town inhabited by an eclectic and eccentric group of characters. It could be the Southern version of “Northern Exposure,” or it could be plain awful.
Amanda Peet, “Bent.” This is another NBC comedy (I can feel “Community” slipping away) from Tad Quill (“Scrubs, Samatha Who?” “Spin City”) about a recently divorced type A single mother who tries hard not to fall for the sexy surfer-dude contractor she hires to re-do her kitchen. That sounds awful, but it’s single-camera, and Tad Quill has a decent track record (although, he is also behind “Perfect Couples.”)
Kerry Washington, “Crisis.”The lovely Kerry Washington will be in another Shonda Rhimes pilot, this onebased on the career of famous crisis management consultant Judy Smith. It will also co-star Columbus Short (Stomp the Yard), who I absolutely love for no reason whatsoever, other than the guy is cool.
Other women of interest getting pilot: The fetching Saffron Burrows will be in the female lead in “Locator,” a spin-off to Fox’s “Bones”; and even “American Idol” alumna, Katherine McPhee, has been cast in the pilot for “Smash,” an hour-long show dreamed up by Steven Spielberg that follows a cross section of characters who come together to put on a Marilyn Monroe musical on Broadway. This one also stars Debra Messing.