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The Latest on Three TV Pilots from Fox, NBC, Freeform

Last updated: May 20, 2021

Three television pilots filmed in the Chicagoland area, and all three have earned series orders, but where will they shoot? SCREEN is giving you a rundown of what lies ahead for each of these promising new series, including some great news for the Illinois and Chicago production slate…

Chicago Claims The Big Leap! And Here’s Your First Look at the Series…

As was reported earlier this month, THE BIG LEAP received a ten-episode series order from Fox and the full series, which stars starring Scott Foley, Teri Polo and Piper Perabo, will be filmed in Chicago. The hour-long pilot filmed in the city last November and December. And here is your first look at the series, as Fox released a trailer as part of its upfront presentation this week….

THE BIG LEAP is a modern tale about second chances, chasing your dreams and taking back what’s yours. From creator/executive producer Liz Heldens of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS fame, director/executive producer Jason Winer (MODERN FAMILY) and executive producer Sue Naegle (THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA), the show revolves around a group of diverse, down-on-their-luck characters attempting to change their lives by participating in a potentially life-ruining reality dance show that builds to a live production of SWAN LAKE. Inspired by a U.K. reality format, THE BIG LEAP is an innovative show-within-a-show that takes viewers on a journey of self-acceptance and empowerment at any age.

Please check back here at SCREEN as THE BIG LEAP forges ahead into production in the months ahead.

Single Drunk Female Heads South

The half-hour pilot SINGLE DRUNK FEMALE shot in Chicago last December and has received a ten-episode series order from the Disney-owned Freeform network. SCREEN has confirmed from multiple sources that while the pilot filmed in Illinois, the series will be produced in Atlanta going forward.

SINGLE DRUNK FEMALE follows a 28-year-old irreverent alcoholic Samantha Fink, played by YOUR HONOR star Sofia Black-D’Elia, who, after a spectacularly embarrassing public breakdown, is forced to move back home with her overbearing mother to sober up and avoid jail time. But when her childhood best friend reveals surprising news, Samantha realizes she can no longer qualify as a party girl – she’s a walking disaster. The series is written by THE CONNERS’ Simone Finch, who executive produces alongside GIRLS’ Jenni Konner and GOOD GIRLS’ Phil Traill, whileRUSSIAN DOLL’s Leslye Headland directed and exec produced the pilot. The half-hour project comes from 20th Television. It also stars Rebecca Henderson, Sasha Compère, Lily Mae Harrington, Garrick Bernard, and Ally Sheedy as Samantha’s overbearing but absent parent.

Where Will Ordinary Joe Go?

SCREEN recently reported the NBC pilot ORDINARY JOE has received a series order, but where will the series shoot? Sources tell SCREEN that while the pilot filmed in Chicago, the series is not expected to return to Illinois. Final word on exactly where this production will land is still forthcoming, although NBC has announced where the series will reside on the fall programming schedule. NBC will be placing the hour-long drama in the coveted Monday night 9 p.m. Central slot, following ratings darling THE VOICE.

ORDINARY JOE explores the three parallel lives of the show’s main character after he makes a pivotal choice at a crossroads in his life. The series asks the question of how different life might look if you made your decision based on love, loyalty or passion. The series is written by HOUSE veterans Russel Friend and Garrett Lerner, and the pilot was directed by Matt Davidson, who is currently an executive producer on NBC’s ZOEY’S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST.

Chicagoans will recognize at least one member of the ORDINARY JOE cast. Charlie Barnett was one of the original cast members of ratings king CHICAGO FIRE, as paramedic Peter Mills, before leaving the show in 2015 after three seasons. Barnett now joins CSI:NY alum Natalie Martinez in ORDINARY JOE. Martinez will star as Amy, described as a bright and caring woman who forms an immediate connection with Joe Kimbrough (played by James Wolk). Barnett will play Eric Payne, one of Joe’s closest friends. ORDINARY JOE marks a reunion of sorts for Martinez and Barnett, who both starred in the ABC series SECRETS AND LIES.

For nostalgia’s sake, here’s a quick excerpt from Charlie’s final episode of CHICAGO FIRE:

One notable Executive Producer on ORDINARY JOE is Matt Reeves, director of THE BATMAN, the highly anticipated reboot starring Robert Pattinson that was in Chicago for a much-publicized two weekend shoot downtown last fall.

Stellar Year for Television Production in Illinois

It’s shaping up to be a historic year for television production for Chicago and the State of Illinois, with a record number of television series in production, and several more in the pipeline. The new FOX series THE BIG LEAP will be a welcome addition to the Chicago and Illinois production slate, and you can check back here at SCREEN for updates as shooting schedule, locations, premiere dates, and more are announced in the weeks ahead.

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