When TV Pilots are Not Picked Up – 2014 Edition

NBC Upfront
Note: If you're looking for the 2015 edition, see here.

Every May, the main broadcasters in the U.S. hold annual “upfront” meetings in New York City, which involve presentations of new television shows that are scheduled to air later in the fall, or even the following year. Often times, major network stars and actors appear to provide a bit of oomph to the events, which advertisers and journalists attend.

Despite the fact that Fox chairman Kevin Reilly announced in January that they would be “bypassing pilot season” this year, and NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke described the ordeal as a “ridiculous process,” both companies still continued to make appearances during upfront week, trumpeting their precise choices.

In the midst of celebrating all of the new programming that has been picked up for series orders, what tends to be lost in the shuffle is the unaired pilots that were decidedly not selected for a network run.

Unfortunately, in most cases these failed pilots are abandoned to the studio shelves, and never see the light of day. In recent years, though, several have found their way onto YouTube, like Lookwell, an early 1990s show developed by Robert Smigel and Conan O’Brien. Other rejects have been known to pop up on online auction website eBay.

According to Ben Feldman, who will be appearing in new NBC comedy “A to Z,” actors learn of their fate from the producers: “...If the show doesn’t go, what usually happens is the producers call you, ‘Okay, we’re so sorry. The network is so stupid. Don’t worry, we’re shopping it around,’ and then you’re supposed to be really excited, ‘Oh, hopefully another network buys it.’ Usually that doesn’t happen.”

These 2014 pilots managed to fall by the wayside this year, and received the red light. It’s entirely possible another network or service like Netflix could decide to do something about it last minute, but such occurrences are rare.

Hopefully, the actors, directors, producers and writers will find other projects.



Love is Relative

The Mason Twins

The Pro

Two to Go
Rob Lowe
Rob Lowe

Of particular note here was “The Pro” – a single camera comedy starring Rob Lowe as former tennis star Ben Bertrahm, an athlete who made some financial mistakes and ended up employed at a local sports club. Comedic actors Rob Riggle and Andrea Savage (both appeared in 2008’s “Step Brothers”), former model Rebecca Romijn and Spice Girl Melanie Brown all were a part of the show.


Babylon Fields
Ashley Judd
Ashley Judd
Tin Man

“Salvation,” a story of megachurch corruption filmed in and around Dallas, Texas, was set to star Ashley Judd, Meg Chambers Steedle (best known for her role as Billie Kent in HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire) and Warren Kole (FOX’s “The Following”). Director Jeffrey Reiner previously executive produced television series “Friday Night Lights,” “The Event” and “Awake.”



Henry Winkler
Henry Winkler
An American Education
Damaged Goods


Saint Francis

The Winklers

Out of this lot, “The Winklers” – helmed by “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator Phil Rosenthal – featured a tale inspired by the life of former Fonzie Henry Winkler himself – Domenick Lombardozzi appeared as construction worker who must reside with his famous actor in-laws.

Jennifer Carpenter
Jennifer Carpenter


Dangerous Liaisons


Sea of Fire


In “Sea of Fire,” “Dexter” alumna Jennifer Carpenter starred as an FBI agent investigating the disappearance of a young girl in a town where residents are upset about three teenagers appearing in an adult-themed movie.


Tom Papa
Tom Papa

More Time with Family
Save the Date

Executive produced by Academy Award-winners Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, “More Time with Family” featured standup comedian Tom Papa as a father looking to change his profession in order to be around his loved ones. Alyson Hannigan (“How I Met Your Mother”) and Joe Pantoliano (“The Fugitive,” “The Matrix”) also appeared.

Anthony LaPaglia
Anthony LaPaglia

Red Zone

“Red Zone,” which also starred a former “Dexter” actress, Aimee Garcia, focused on a character portrayed by Anthony LaPaglia (“Without a Trace”) – a former CIA operative who returns to the job after an inside-the-Beltway terrorist attack.


Jane Krakowski
Jane Krakowski
Dead Boss

No Place Like Home

Tony Award-winner Jane Krakowski (“30 Rock”) starred in “Dead Boss,” an adaptation of a BBC3 show about an individual who must demonstrate that she is not responsible for killing her employer. Rachel Dratch, from “Saturday Night Live,” also appeared.

Author: Brian Cameron

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