TV Surf Report: Five Current Sales Trends in Hollywood (For Better Or Worse!)


Santa Monica, CA —  (Updated 03 November 2016)

For better or worse, here are the 5 Big Trends in Hollywood’s TV Development Landscape right now:

  • True Crime
  • Super Heroes
  • Actors Who Produce
  • Remakes & Re-Boots
  • Adaptations

Let’s start with the Worst:


Thanks to The People Vs OJ Simpson on FX which received great ratings and critical acclaim (garnering multiple wins at this year’s Emmy Awards), every broadcaster in town has been hard at work mining the LA Times for true crime stories to exploit, and there seems to be no end to the dredging:

  • Season 3 of American Crime Story on FX will explore the murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace.  Anthology from Ryan Murphy (People Vs OJ Simpson) is based on Maureen Orth’s book Vulgar Favors.
  • Jon-Benet Ramsey’s Unsolved Murder (A child beauty queen is found strangled in the basement of the family home.)
  • The Menendez Brothers’ Slaying of their Parents (Wealthy Beverly Hills brothers murder their parents in cold blood.)  Dick Wolf produces via Law & Order franchise.
  • Claus Von Bulow’s Murder of His Wife (Longtime comatose wife is murdered by her husband but he is initially found not guilty of the crime.)
  • Amanda Knox Murder Trial in Italy (American college student and boyfriend are accused of her roommate’s murder.)  New documentary coming via Netflix proclaims new evidence uncovered.
  • Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas (A federal raid on a West Texas compound results in blood bath and the death of charistmatic leader David Koresh.  Taylor Kitsch and Michael Shannon star.)
  • Jonestown (Octavia Spencer to star in Vince Gilligan’s limited series about cult leader Jim Jones and the massacre for HBO).
  • Chandra Levy (Washington DC intern is murdered while on a late-night jog.  TNT developing a limited series.)
  • Patty Hearst  (Heiress kidnapping by the SLA in development as a series at CBS.)


This trend cannot end soon enough for me as I find it gross, disturbing and exploitative of dead people whose murders either remained unsolved, unavenged, etc.  The American psyche can’t take much of this, I predict (or hope).  I am probably wrong, tho.  I will not be tuning in to any of these projects as I find them all in poor taste.

Next Trend (Worst):


Just when you thought the well must have run dry with the cancellation of Agent Carter by ABC, think again!  The networks are hard at work mining the DC Comics Universe and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) for all their worth:

  • Legion at FX.  Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) stars as the telekinetic son of Charles Xavier.
  • Future Man at Hulu.  Josh Hutcherson (Hunger Games) stars in this Seth Rogen-produced comedy about a janitor by night, gamer by day, who saves the world.
  • Black Lightning at Fox.  Uber-producer Greg Berlanti produces this adaptation of the DC Comic which features an African-American super hero.  Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil script.  Pilot commitment!
  • Booster Gold.  More from Greg Bertlanti and the DC Comics Universe but not part of the Justice League Universe.  Right now, this project is in development as a Feature.
  • Xena is still awaiting a pilot order based on Javier Grillo-Marxuach’s script.
  • Squirrel Girl and the New Warriors, a Marvel comedic property in development at ABC Studios.  No network attached yet for Marvel’s favorite teenaged Mutant.
  • Krypton, the Superman prequel, in production at SyFy.
  • krypton
  • The Defenders at Netflix.  Group franchise unites Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Daredevil and Iron Fist.  Eight episodes ordered.
  • Warrior at Cinemax.  Bruce Lee’s passion project is directed by Justin Lin.
  • The Tick at Amazon. Creator Ben Edlund’s darker and more grounded take stars Peter Serafinowicz.
  • Marvel’s Runaways at Hulu.  Teenagers on the run from their evil parents.
  • Powerless at NBC.  Set to premiere at midseason, the half-hour stars Vanessa Hudgens.
  • Star Wars: The Series at ABC.  Get ready for the Star Wars Extended Universe to hit the small screen.

DEFENDERS   star-wars

Next Trend (Best):


  • Dwayne Johnson and Will Ferrell sold a wrestling comedy to Fox.
  • Jessica Alba sold an AI drama thriller at Fox.
  • Will Arnett is producing a revival of The Gong Show for ABC.
  • Felicity Huffman sold a political family comedy to ABC. (Kenya Barris & Vijal Patel produce).
  • Seth Meyers has sold multiple comedy pitches to NBC.  Has-Beens!
  • Priscilla Presley (and Harvey Weinstein) continues to mine the Elvis estate with a new limited series based on the legendary singer’s life.  No network yet.
  • Katie Couric has a put pilot commitment from CBS for a hate crimes drama (also produced by Alex Kurtzman & Jenny Lumet).
  • Leah Remini is producing a series based on her life as a Scientologist for A&E.
  • Megyn Kelly is producing Embeds at Verizon’s Go90.  Political Comedy series.
  • Josh Gad (along with Josh Schwartz & Seth Gordon) sold Toy Wars to Amazon. Limited drama series stars Gad in a period piece about the corporate war between Mattel and Hasbro.
  • John Stamos (along with Neil Meron & Craig Zadan) have set up a 1980s soap drama with Universal TV.  No network attached yet but expect it to land at a NBC/Universal company.  USA seems a likely destination for this Boogie Nights-esque series.
  • Fred Savage has a mixed race family comedy at NBC.
  • Lebron James has a sports-medicine drama at NBC.  King James also sold a Cleveland-set family comedy with Bill Lawrence (Scrubs).
  • le-bron-james
  • Novak Djokovic has a reality show at Amazon.
  • Jessica Biel sold The Sinner, a crime drama, at USA.  Bill Pullman also stars.
  • Melissa McCarthy has set up an unconventional family comedy at Fox. Groundlings  Jim Cashman and Mitch Silpa script.
  • Zayn Malik produces a Boy Band drama at NBC with Dick Wolf.
  • Kerry Washington is working on Patrol, a female LAPD police drama at ABC.
  • Judge Judy has a sold a series to CBS based on her life.
  • Zach Braff is producing and starring in Start Up, a comedy at ABC.
  • Kyra Sedgwick produces Ten Days in the Valley at ABC, replacing Demi Moore in the crime procedural.
  • Bradley Cooper is developing a miniseries about ISIS at HBO.


Next Trend (Best):


  • Weaveworld at The CW.  Horror master Clive Barker’s novel gets adapted.
  • Dietland at AMC.  Marti Noxon (UnREAL) and Bonnie Curtis (Albert Nobbs) produce the adaptation of Sarai Walker’s book.
  • The Nix at HBO.  Meryl Streep stars and produces with J.J. Abrams in this limited series adaptation of Nathan Hill’s novel about a woman who attacks a political candidate.
  •  The Curve, a satire on legal education, has landed at NBC with Jeff Rake (The Mysteries of Laura) adapting.
  • Oliver Twist at NBC.  Poor Charles Dickens.  This new version has orphans tracking down wealthy criminals.
  • King Arthur at Fox.  Re-imagined as a police procedural.  Hmm.
  • Agatha Christie Novels at BBC One.  Seven of her books to be made, including  Ordeal by Innocence and The ABC Murders.
  • Anne of Green Gables at Netflix.  A new series of the classic coming-of-age story.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale at Hulu.  Elizabeth Moss and Joseph Fiennes star in a new version of the Margaret Atwood thriller.
  • Wild Cards at USA.  Universal Cable produces George R. R. Martin’s book as a series.
  • Humboldt, a drama series about pot farmers stars John Malkovich, and based on Emily Brady’s best-selling book.  No network attached yet.

nix     dietlandcurve

Next Trend (Worst):


  • American Gigolo at Showtime.  Uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer made the sale.
  • Will & Grace at NBC.  Event series re-boot of 10 episodes.  Good idea.
  • Equity at ABC.  The Anna Gunn film about financial crisis gets a TV version.
  • Sneakers at NBC.  Lovable cyber criminals but without Redford and Pitt.
  • Infamous at NBC.  Put pilot commitment for this legal drama procedural based on the 2009 Icelandic series Rettur.
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  Producer Steve Golin to re-make via Anonymous Content and UCP. No network attached yet.  Young couple erases each other’s mind after a painful breakup.  Feels very CW to me.
  • L.A. Law.  Steven Bochco and 20th TV shopping a re-make.  Too soon!
  • Dynasty at The CW. Fallon vs. Krstyle (who is now Latina).  Sigh.
  • S.W.A.T. at CBS.  Re-boot of the Aaron Spelling series, now with an African American lead.
  • Magnum, P.I. at ABC.  Sorry to report.  Too soon.  Tom Selleck is on the air still (at CBS, no less!) with Blue Bloods.  Creative brain drain.  Female version.  Ugh.
  • The Italian Job at NBC.
  • She’s Gotta Have It at Netflix.  Spike Lee re-makes his own film as a series.
  • The Departed at Amazon.  New version features a Latino gang.
  • Snatch at Crackle.  Rupert Grint stars in the series based on the Guy Ritchie film.
  • The Lost Boys at The CW.
  • The Last Tycoon at Amazon.  Matt Bomer and Kelsey Grammar star.
  • Friday Night Dinner at CBS.  The UK comedy gets remade for the US audience.
  • Varsity Blues at CMT.
  • Heathers at TV Land.  Pilot has been ordered to series, and now, it’s an Anthology (another trend!)magnum-pi


For more about upcoming Re-Makes and why I blame the success of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for this continued Trend/Strategy, check out this piece I wrote for the London Screenwriters Festival which recently concluded:


UP NEXT:  Anthology Makes a Big Comeback!  Plus, lots of shows about Pot.

About Surfing Hollywood

Steve La Rue is an internationally recognized leader in Film & Television with 20+ years experience as a Development Executive championing such series as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Battlestar Galactica, and Farscape. He writes, blogs, and consults on All Things Entertainment from his home at the beach in Santa Monica, CA, where he balances his life by surfing every damn day.
This entry was posted in TV Surf Report and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s