The Big-Name TV Pilots You'll Never See
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We missed out on a "Roseanne" reunion when NBC passed on "Downwardly Mobile," another blue-collar comedy that would've reteamed former TV husband and wife Roseanne Barr and John Goodman. Barr would've played the proprietor of a trailer park full of colorful characters, with Goodman playing the park's handyman. (They wouldn't have been married, though.) But don't break out the harmonicas just yet; "Mobile" couldn't find a spot to park on NBC's fall schedule.
Another TV reunion we'll never get to see: "Cheers" co-stars Kirstie Alley and Rhea Perlman were set to headline ABC's Jersey-set fish-out-of-water comedy "The Manzanis." Alley was to play Angela Manzani, an Italian loudmouth who moves into a quiet neighborhood with her husband and three kids... and makes it a lot less quiet. And get this: Perlman would've played Angela's mother-in-law -- even though she's only three years older than Alley! Maybe that's why "The Manzanis" ended up sinking to the bottom of the river.
No Uncle Jesse this fall, either: Fox didn't pick up "Little Brother," which starred John Stamos as a straitlaced family man whose life gets turned upside down when his crazy ex-con brother (T.J. Miller) moves in, Hmmm, that really sounds more like a Bob Saget role, doesn't it? Guess those Oikos yogurt ads are going to have keep running for a while.
Fresh off a season-long role on "Dexter," Julia Stiles was looking to keep the intense-TV-drama thing going with NBC's "Midnight Sun." a thriller that cast her as a FBI specialist who investigates the disappearance of a creepy Alaskan cult. The CW's "Cult" made it onto that network's midseason schedule, but Stiles' similarly themed project ended up DOA.
Martiiiiiiiiin! TV vet Martin Lawrence almost took a break from making "Big Momma" movies to return to the small screen in a new untitled sitcom for CBS. (Martin Lawrence on CBS... we can't even picture it.) Lawrence would've played a single dad looking for work who decides to enroll in the police academy -- at age 46. Regina Hall and John Amos were all set to co-star, but CBS passed, so we'll never get to see how awkwardly Martin would've fit in on the Tiffany Network.
Sarah Silverman won't be making her network debut anytime soon; her untitled NBC comedy never got off the ground. The foul-mouthed comedienne played an aimless thirtysomething woman who heads back to her old apartment to recover after a breakup and finds everything's changed but her. Okay, that's admittedly not much of a premise, but we love Silverman's whacked out sense of humor -- and Jeff Goldblum was going to play her ex-boyfriend! Alas, we'll never get to witness the crackling chemistry between those two.
Fox will not be showing Cuba Gooding Jr. the money this fall, since they passed on his new legal thriller, "Guilty." Gooding was set to star as a brilliant trial attorney who's unjustly stripped of his law license and forced to practice law under the table; now he's determined to get vengeance on the men who framed him. The plot has a whiff of ABC's buzzy "Revenge" to it, but that wasn't enough to earn it a timeslot. Quick... somebody write this guy a sequel to "Snow Dogs."
Former pop princess Mandy Moore was set to land her first starring TV role in an untitled ABC comedy. Moore would've played half of a newlywed couple who run a trendy restaurant in her hometown, with Stockard Channing onboard as Mandy's mom. But ABC didn't seem to have much of an appetite, since they passed on the project.
"Chuck" fans will have to live without seeing Zachary Levi's face on their TVs every week. Levi was slated to star in a new Fox comedy, "Let It Go," as a tightly wound young dad who just can't... well, let it go. But Fox must be secret shareholders in Volkoff Industries, because they passed on the pilot. Is the Buy More hiring?
"Heroes" star Ali Larter was all set to return to the small screen as the lead in Fox's spy drama "The Asset." Larter starred as Anna King, a beautiful CIA agent who collects crucial intel by posing as a journalist. Plus, "The West Wing's" Bradley Whitford had signed on to play the agency's station chief. But Fox closed the case before "The Asset" made it to air.
We won't get to see what Jaime Pressly and Amy Smart look like behind bars, since their NBC women-in-prison drama "Bad Girls" didn't get the green light. Pressly would've played the sadistic warden at a federal prison for women, with Smart and Jurnee Smollett ("Friday Night Lights") co-starring as inmates. No reprieve from NBC, though; they scrapped the pilot.
Emmy winners Tony Shalhoub ("Monk") and Allison Janney ("The West Wing") were set to play husband and wife in "Friday Night Dinner," an NBC comedy from "The Office" producer Greg Daniels. Another U.K. import, "Dinner" would see Shalhoub and Janney's characters preside over their wacky family's regular Friday night meals. But though it was an early frontrunner for next season, NBC eventually RSVPed no for this "Dinner." (And look at all this food we made!)
Sometimes you can kind of see why a network didn't pick up a certain pilot. Case in point: CBS's ridiculous-sounding procedural "Trooper," which would've starred Mira Sorvino as a mom who somehow becomes (you guessed it) a New York state trooper. Let's just say we all dodged a bullet on this one.
TV networks pass on dozens of pilots each year; here are some of the big-name projects that didn't make the cut for next season.
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