The fall season’s shows have already been chosen, but what about the 100-plus projects that were still in development or didn’t win a spot on the networks’ schedules? Here’s a look at some of the more intriguing series that may yet warrant mid-season slots — or end up languishing in limbo:
Style & Substance Kathleen Turner skewers Martha Stewart as a home-decorating guru who relates more to fabric swatches than to people. Chances for pickup (on a scale of 0 to 5): 1. ”Style was on the schedule, but it tested poorly” with focus groups, says creator Peter Tolan. ”Everybody [at the network] liked it, but they can’t afford to like it if it tests badly.”
Fired Up Sharon Lawrence (NYPD Blue’s Sylvia) plays a high-strung exec who gets fired, gets mad, and starts a business with a canned pal (Leah Remini). ”It’s a female buddy comedy,” says executive producer Victor Fresco. Chances: 5. NBC has promised the show a mid-season slot (Lawrence will be curtailing her Blue duties).
Players Odd-couple alert: Shaun Cassidy (teen idol-turned-American Gothic creator) is scripting a pilot starring rapper Ice-T (”Cop Killer”) as a con who handles the crooks the cops can’t handle. ”There’s a nod to Mission: Impossible,” says exec producer Dick Wolf. Chances: 4. With Wolf’s record (Law & Order, New York Undercover), it should get booked.
Pauly Pauly Shore plays a sympathetic (now there’s a stretch!) son who clashes with his wealthy dad’s fiancee. ”Pauly’s one of the most hated actors in America,” says exec producer Stan Zimmerman. ”We designed the show to make him likable.” Chances: 5. Fox has promised a mid-season slot. (Maybe that’ll save us from Bio-Dome 2.)
Leaving L.A. A morgue-based dramedy examines the lighter side of death (this used to be called Exit Elves). Creator Nancy Miller says the show’s not depressing: ”It has fantasy, humor, magic. It’s life affirming!” Chances: 1. It was already declared a stiff by NBC before ABC passed for fall.
Gun Robert Altman takes a shot at prime time with a high-concept drama anthology that follows one gun from owner to owner. Chances: 4, with a bullet. Just to be on the safe side, ”we’re not taking a position on gun control,” says executive producer Rob Dwek.
Dear Diary Bebe Neuwirth stars in this dram-edy as a woman observing life through her diary. Think The Still-Wondering Years. Chances: 2. With no laugh track, it’s a hard sell — despite Neuwirth’s Cheers years. ”I don’t think we’re high up on [ABC’s] list,” says DreamWorks exec Barry Jossen.
Gail Another NYPD Blue grad, Gail O’Grady goes from gumshoes to athletic shoes: ”I play a marketing executive at a Nike-wannabe company,” she says of her sitcom. Chances: 5. Thanks to her Blue period, O’Grady’s a hot property. Fox definitely wants it for mid-season.
Extreme Blue Two surfers-turned-U.S. Customs agents (yeah, that could happen) hunt drug dealers and smugglers. ”I Spy was an inspiration,” says UPN Entertainment prez Mike Sullivan. Chances: 3. ”We only have two drama pilots backing up the two we’ll have on air. This is one of the two, so you do the math,” says Sullivan. ”And we do like the show a lot.”