Fall TV Preview

Pilot Season 2020: Productions Hit Pause Due to Coronavirus Concerns

Gina Torres The Brides ABC Dracula

The broadcast-TV networks already are scrambling to “reimagine” their Upfront presentations, in which next season’s slate is typically (though not this year) unveiled before a live audience of ad buyers and journalists. But now, it may be a matter of what new shows, if any, network execs will be able to review/evaluate in a timely manner.

Just as more than four dozen current or upcoming shows have halted production due to coronavirus concerns, many of the pilots that were ordered in recent months have had to do same, hitting pause for at least two to three weeks.

“With the rapidly changing events related to COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution, Warner Bros. Television Group is halting production on some of our 70+ series and pilots currently filming or about to begin,” the WB Television Group said in a statement. “The health and safety of our employees, casts and crews remains our top priority.”

Disney Television Studios, similarly, has postponed production on 16 pilots for at least three weeks. Among the prospective series now in a holding pattern are The Brides (headlined by Gina Torres and Goran Visnjic), Ordinary Joe (in which James Wolk leads the three parallel lives), Rebel (starring Katey Segal as an ersatz Erin Brockovich) and the ballet drama The Big Leap.

NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS and The CW typically hold their Upfront presentations in mid-May, with this year’s rollout originally slated to kick off on May 11. All five broadcasters have announced plans to stream some version of their traditionally star-studded presentation, rather than present live to hundreds of people crowded inside a theater, though only CBS thus far has committed to a date — Wednesday, May 13.