Two Of Television’s Best Showrunners Land New Pilots

I wasn’t all together thrilled with the project, but yesterday it was cool to see that one of television’s best showrunners, Shawn Ryan (Terriers, The Unit, Chicago Code, The Shield) had landed another gig, the Beverly Hills Cop TV adaptation (better still is that it’s on CBS, which at least means Shawn Ryan will have a show that won’t be canceled after one season). Now comes word that two more of TV’s best showrunners have sold pilots.

Graham Yost, the man behind Justified, the short-lived Jeff Goldblum series Raines, and a writer on Herman’s Heads, Band of Brothers and Boomtown, is returning to network television with L.A. Woman, a 70’s female spy drama set in Los Angeles. Yost is a busy man, having also created The Americans, a spy drama starring Keri Russell that was recently picked up to series by FX, and serving as executive producer on TNT’s Falling Skies. I do kind of hope, however, that Yost hires Natalie Zea to lead the series, because I love the actress, just not her Justified character, who is due to be written out of the show.

Meanwhile, Kyle Killen hopes the third time is a charm. The man whose brilliant series debut, Lone Star, was canceled after two episodes, and only fared marginally better with his second series, NBC’s Awake, is returning to the networks with Influence. The show is being described as a “provocative workplace ensemble centered on the complicated relationship between two brothers — a bipolar genius in human psychology and a slick ex-con — who head a unique agency designed to solve their clients’ problems using the real science of human motivation and manipulation.” That project has been given a put pilot commitment (meaning, the network has guaranteed to air the pilot) by ABC. Killen’s last two projects focused on one man with two identities, so it’s nice to see he’s branching out into multiple leads with distinct identities.

The biggest question is both cases, however, is WHY ARE THEY SELLING THEIR PILOTS TO THE NETWORKS? Both guys have been burned frequently enough by the broadcast networks that one would think they’d learn to pitch their pilots only to cable, where they would be appreciated and more likely to at least see the first season of their series aired in its entirety. I wonder what the success rate on network dramas is over the last five years? It’s gotta be less than 10 percent. It’s skull-cracking frustrating when a network gives us two episodes of a series with great potential only to pull it.