LA Screenings: Networks Offer Starry Standouts as Writers Strike Impacts New Series Orders
The major broadcast networks are trying very hard this year to do what they do best – create franchise drama series built around the adventures of larger-than-life characters.
Kathy Bates, Kaitlin Olson, Carrie Preston and Shanola Hampton are among the female actors hoping to click as distinctive protagonists with new series in the 2023-24 season. Bates will bring to life a next-generation “Matlock,” while Preston limns a new chapter for Elsbeth Tascioni, the attorney character she has played on and off on CBS’ “The Good Wife” and Paramount+’s “The Good Fight” since 2010.
This is good news for the hundreds of international television buyers heading to Los Angeles for next week’s LA Screenings market. Another welcome development is that the largest media congloms are now on a big push to reopen their doors to third-party buyers, after a few years of holding back the biggest shows for in-house streaming services.
On the downside, buyers will likely find the roster of new shows to choose from will be thinner overall across Disney, Paramount Global, NBCUniversal, Warner Bros. Discovery and other traditional participants in LA Screenings. The writers strike that began May 2 naturally put a damper on new series orders timed to the upfronts. Networks and studios were forced to make hasty decisions to pass or delay on numerous pilots and development projects.
The volume of script orders this year was already down as Hollywood grapples with an industry-wide wave of budget tightening. The largest companies are slicing content and marketing budgets and laying off staff by the hundreds, if not thousands.
Broadcast network TV has simply not been a big investment priority for Hollywood’s majors over the past few years. But that doesn’t mean the Big Four are entirely starved for hot prospects. Even in a lean year, there are starry standouts.
Here’s a rundown of top new drama offerings:
High Potential (ABC Signature)
Logline: A single mom with an exceptional mind, whose unconventional knack for solving crimes leads to an unusual and unstoppable partnership with a by-the-book seasoned detective.
Exec producers: Drew Goddard, Sarah Esberg, Rob Thomas (showrunner), Alethea Jones (director), Dan Etheridge, Pierre Laugier, Anthony Lancret and Jean Nainchrik
Cast: Kaitlin Olson, Daniel Sunjata, Javicia Leslie Deniz Akdeniz, Amirah J, Matthew Lamb and Judy Reyes
Elsbeth (CBS Studios)
Logline: The unconventional attorney character Elsbeth Tascioni, known from “The Good Wife” and “The Good Fight,” uses her singular point of view to make unique observations and corner brilliant criminals alongside the NYPD.
Exec producers: Robert King (writer, director), Michelle King (writer), Jonathan Tolins (showrunner), Liz Glotzer
Cast: Carrie Preston, Wendell Pierce and Carra Patterson
Matlock (CBS Studios)
Logline: Inspired by the original NBC series, brilliant septuagenarian attorney Madeline Matlock rejoins the work force at a prestigious law firm
Exec producers: Jennie Snyder Urman (writer), Joanna Klein, Eric Christian Olson, John Will and Kathy Bates
Cast: Kathy Bates, Skye P. Marshall, Jason Ritter, David Del Rio and Leah Lewis
Doc (Sony Pictures TV, Fox Entertainment)
Logline: A brilliant doctor has to navigate a new world after a brain injury erases eight years of her memory.
Exec producers: Barbie Kligman (showrunner), Hank Steinberg and Erwin Stoff
Rescue: HI Surf (Warner Bros. TV, Fox Entertainment)
Logline: Follows the personal and professional lives of the heavy-water lifeguards who patrol and protect the North Shore of O’ahu, the most famous and dangerous stretch of coastline in the world.
Exec producers: Matt Kester (writer, co-showrunner), John Wells (director, co-showrunner) and Daniele Nathanson (co-showrunner) and Erin Jontow
Found (Universal Television, Warner Bros. Television)
Loglinee: A crisis management PR specialist works with a team to help find missing persons but this everyday hero is hiding a chilling secret of her own.
Exec producers: Nkechi Okoro Carroll (writer), Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Sonay Hoffman, Lindsay Dunn and Leigh Redman
Cast: Shanola Hampton, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Kelli Williams, Brett Dalton, Gabrielle Walsh, Arlen Escarpeta and Karan Oberoi.
The Irrational (Universal Television)
Logline: Alec Mercer is a world-renowned leader in behavioral science who lends his expertise to an array of high-stakes cases involving governments, law enforcement and corporations with his unique and unexpected approach to understanding human behavior.
Exec producers: Arika Lisanne Mittman (writer), Mark Goffman, Samuel Baum and David Frankel
Cast: Jesse L. Martin, Maahra Hill, Travina Springer, Molly Kunz and Arash DeMaxi
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