NBC picks up two dramas, two comedies


NBC has reportedly begun its upfront order for the 2011-2012 season from a menu that includes “Smash,” a Steven Spielberg musical drama, “Prime Suspect,” an adaptation from the British miniseries; “Whitney,” based on the stand-up comedy of Whitney Cummings; and “Up All Night,” a humorous look at parenthood through the lens of an acerbic working mom (Christina Applegate).

A roundup of the new shows:

“Smash”: This musical drama series from Stephen Spielberg tracks the development of a Broadway musical inspired by silver screen icon Marilyn Monroe. Debra Messing (Will and Grace), Jack Davenport, Angelica Huston, and American Idol alum Katharine McPhee will star.

“Prime Suspect”: This remake of the British series centers on the female head of a homicide squad (portrayed by Maria Bello) who leads her team in solving homicides while juggling her personal life. Aidan Quinn is set to costar as her boss. From Universal Media Studios, Peter Berg is executive producing.

“Up All Night”: Christina Applegate stars in an irreverent look at parenthood through the POV of an acerbic working mother, who never thought she’d be a mom. Also in the mix is her stay-at-home husband and opinionated parents. From NBC Studios and Lorne Michaels. Applegate and Lorne Michaels (a powerful player at NBC) had given this comedy a high probability of getting on the schedule from the start.

“Whitney”. A multicamera comedy, from Universal Media Studios, based on the stand-up comedy of Whitney Cummings and revolves around the ups and downs of a young couple in a committed relationship. Cummings penned the pilot and will executive produce with Betsy Thomas (Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel), Scott Stuber (Your Highness), Quan Phung and Barry Katz (Good Luck Chuck). Andy Ackerman (Perfect Couples) directed the pilot.

Those that didn’t make the cut:

My Life As An Experiment: Based on the best-selling book by journalist/author A.J. Jacobs, Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life As An Experiment. The comedy centers on magazine immersion journalist A.J. Wilder (Jon Dore), who explores all sorts of unique experiences. Paget Brewster (Criminal Minds) plays A.J.’s wife Stacie. Donald Sutherland will play Stacie’s dad and A.J.’s father-in-law, a highly respected, very accomplished heart surgeon and a pompous, arrogant guy to boot who makes no secret of his disdain for his writer son-in-law. From Sony, Reveille, and Jack Black’s Electric Dynamite. There’s quite a bit of buzz surrounding this project.

Free Agents: Another attempt to adapt a British series for American sensibilities. The romantic comedy explores the attraction between two quirky PR executives working together, who also both happen to be on the
rebound, one from divorce and the other from the death of her fiancé. Hank Azaria stars. Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum Anthony Head will guest star in the pilot, reprising his role from the original British version.

Are You There, Vodka, It’s Me, Chelsea: This comedy, loosely based on Chelsea Handler’s novel, would center on the Chelsea Hanson, a free-spirited cocktail waitress who loves alcohol and one-night stands. Laura Prepon (That 70’s Show) stars. From NBC Studios.

The Playboy Club: Set in the 1960s, this project, from 20th Television, Imagine TV and writer-executive producer Chad Hodge, centers on a Chicago attorney who is also a key holder at the glamorous, exclusive Playboy Club. Eddie Cibrian (CSI: Miami, Chase) star in the pilot. Seems like an attempt at a stylized period piece a la Mad Men.

S.I.L.A. (Special Investigations L.A.): NBC will attempt to launch another drama with Jimmy Smits in the lead. This one is set in the world of crime, law enforcement and politics in modern-day LA. From Chernin Entertainment and 20th Television.

REM: Think of this action-adventure drama project as an Inception-style thriller. It centers on Detective Mark Britten (Jason Isaacs) who wakes up after an accident to find he is living in two different realities, one in which he has killed his son Rex and one in which he has killed his wife Hannah in a car accident. Cherry Jones (24) will play Dr. Stephanie Evans, Mark’s shrink in the reality in which his wife Hannah has been killed. From creator/exec producer Kyle Killen and 20th Television.

A Mann’s World: Don Johnson stars as Allan Mann, a fifty-something handsome and sexy, straight Beverly Hills hairdresser struggling to stay young and relevant in a place where looks are everything. Ellen Barkin costars as Allan’s forgiving, funny ex-wife and the mother of their three children. Mario Cantone was also cast as the salon’s manager. From Michael Patrick King (Sex and the City) and Warner Bros. TV.

Grimm: This dark fantasy cop drama takes place in a world in which characters inspired by Grimm’s Fairy Tales exist. From NBC Studios and UMS.