By Alison Willmore | Indiewire May 9, 2013 at 4:44PM
It's J.J. Abrams' world, and we just watch it. Not long after Fox announced that one of its new series for 2013-2014 will be the Abrams-produced futuristic cop drama "Almost Human," NBC touted its own pickup of an Abrams joint, "Believe," about an orphaned 10-year-old girl with extraordinary abilities who's given over to the protection of a wrongfully imprisoned death row inmate. The show is executive produced, written and directed by no less than Alfonso Cuarón. Abrams has a current series at NBC -- "Revolution," which has already been given a renewal.
Also among the network's new series is Jason Katims' TV adaptation of "About a Boy," directed by Jon Favreau and starring David Walton, Minnie Driver and Benjamin Stockham, and hostage thriller "Crisis," from "Life" creator Rand Ravich and starring Dermot Mulroney, Gillian Anderson, Lance Gross and Rachael Taylor. Comedy "Sean Saves the World" is another doubling up for NBC -- it comes from star Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner, who executive produce the network's supernatural procedural "Grimm." Here are the five announce pickups, descriptions courtesy of the network.
ABOUT A BOY
Based on the best-selling Nick Hornby ("High Fidelity," "An Education") novel, written/produced by Jason Katims ("Friday Night Lights," "Parenthood") and directed by Jon Favreau ("Iron Man," "Revolution") comes a different kind of coming-of-age story. Will Freeman (David Walton, "Bent," "Perfect Couples") lives a charmed existence as the ultimate man-child. After writing a hit song, he was granted a life of free time, free love and freedom from financial woes. He's single, unemployed and loving it. So imagine his surprise when Fiona (Minnie Driver, "Good Will Hunting," "Barney's Version"), a needy, single mom and her oddly charming 11-year-old son Marcus (Benjamin Stockham, "1600 Penn") move in next door and disrupt his perfect world. When Marcus begins dropping by his home unannounced, Will's not so sure about being a kid's new best friend, until, of course, Will discovers that women find single dads irresistible. That changes everything and a deal is struck: Marcus will pretend to be Will's son and, in return, Marcus is allowed to chill at Will's house, play ping-pong and gorge on steaks, something his very vegan mom would never allow. Before he realizes it, Will starts to enjoy the visits and even finds himself looking out for the kid. In fact, this newfound friendship may very well teach him a thing or two that he never imagined possible - about himself and caring for others. Also starring are Al Madrigal ("Gary Unmarried") and Anjelah N. Johnson-Reyes ("Our Family Wedding"). Katims, Favreau, Tim Bevan ("Les Misérables," "About a Boy"), Eric Fellner ("Les Misérables," "About a Boy"), Liza Chasin ("Les Misérables," "About a Boy"), Robert De Niro ("About a Boy," "Meet the Parents") and Jane Rosenthal ("About a Boy," "Meet the Parents") serve as executive producers. "About a Boy" is a production of Universal Television, Working Title Films, True Jack Productions and Tribeca Productions.
Levitation, telekinesis, the ability to control nature, even predict the future... Since she was two years old, Bo has had gifts she could neither fully understand, nor control. Raised by a small group known as the "True Believers," the orphaned girl has been safeguarded from harmful outsiders who would use her forces for personal gain. But now that she is 10, her powers have become stronger, and the threat has grown more dangerous. With her life and future now in jeopardy, the "Believers" turn to the only person they see fi t to be her full-time protector. That is, once they break him out of jail. Tate, a wrongfully imprisoned death row inmate who's lost his will, is initially reluctant - until he witnesses one of her extraordinary abilities. Bo sees people for who they truly are... and who they may become. Tate and Bo begin their journey, one in which trust must be earned. Traveling from city to city, every place they stop and everyone they meet will be changed forever. But they'll have to keep going to stay one step ahead of the sinister forces after Bo's power... because it will take a miracle to keep them safe forever. The powers of a young girl may hold the fate of our world in Believe, from executive producer J.J. Abrams (Revolution, Star Trek: Into Darkness) and executive producer/writer/director Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men).
From writer/producer Rand Ravich ("Life," "The Astronaut's Wife") and starring Dermot Mulroney ("The Grey," "My Best Friend's Wedding"), Gillian Anderson ("The X-Files," "Hannibal"), Lance Gross ("Tyler Perry's House of Pain," "The Last Fall") and Rachael Taylor ("Transformers," "Red Dog") comes an emotionally charged, action thriller. It's field trip day for the students of Ballard High School, a place that educates the children of Washington, D.C.'s elite, top-of-their-industry CEOs, international diplomats, political power players and even the president's son. But when their bus is ambushed on a secluded rural road, the teenagers and their chaperones are taken, igniting a national crisis. Now with some of the country's most powerful parents at the mercy of one vengeful mastermind, the question arises: How far would you go and what would you become to ensure your child's safe return? With so many parents and dignitaries put into play with nowhere to turn and no one to trust, this unthinkable scenario grows from the select families at risk to an entire nation at stake. Also starring are Stevie Lynn Jones ("Battle Force," "Rogue"), Halston Sage ("The First Time," "How to Rock"), Joshua Erenberg ("The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," "The Green Hornet"), Max Schneider ("How to Rock," "Rags"), James Lafferty ("One Tree Hill," "S. Darko"), Max Martini ("Saving Private Ryan," "The Unit") and Michael Beach ("The Game," "Third Watch"). Ravich, Far Shariat ("Life," "I Love You Phillip Morris") and Phillip Noyce ("Salt," "Patriot Games"), who directed the pilot, serve as executive producers. "Crisis" is from 20th Century Fox Television
THE FAMILY GUIDE
It's not every family that's brought closer together by divorce, but then again, the Fishers aren't exactly typical. Take Mel Fisher (J.K. Simmons, "The Closer," "Law & Order"), for example. Whether it's chopping down trees, showing his daughter how to drive or playing football with his son, he's never let the fact that he's blind slow him down. Then there's Joyce Fisher (Parker Posey, "Louie," "For Your Consideration"), possibly the only mom in Pasadena to smoke a pipe. For her, divorce is like a second coming of age, a chance to be the teen she never was. Just ask'80s-obsessed teenage daughter Katie (Ava Deluca-Verley, "Southland"), whose clothes Joyce is always borrowing (that is, when she's not tagging along with Katie to the mall). At the center of all this is Henry (Eli Baker), the Fisher's 11-year old son. Having always been his dad's eyes, ears and wingman, Henry's less than thrilled when Mel shows up with Elvis, a guide dog... which is also how Henry learns about the pending divorce. Awkward. While reluctant to the changes this "big ball of fur" would bring, it's through the adult Henry's voice-over (Jason Bateman, "Arrested Development") that we find out his parent's split would "allow all of us to finally discover...who we needed to be." The half-hour comedy is executive produced by DJ Nash ("Up All Night," "Guys with Kids"), Bateman and Jim Garavente. The pilot episode is directed by David Schwimmer ("Little Britain," "Run Fat Boy Run"). "Family Guide" is a production of Universal Television and Aggregate Films.
SEAN SAVES THE WORLD
Sean (Sean Hayes, "Will & Grace") is a divorced gay dad who juggles a lot - his successful but demanding career, offbeat employees, pushy mom Lorna (Linda Lavin, "Alice"), and weekends with his teenage daughter, Ellie (Sami Isler). So when his 14-year-old bundle of joy moves in full-time, it's a whole new world. Never one to do anything halfway, Sean's intent on being the best dad ever, so he loads up on parenting how-to books and plans Pinterest-worthy family dinners. But it seems his company's new owner has decided Sean and his team should work longer hours, putting a damper on his homemaking plans and throwing a kink in Sean's perfectly constructed work/life balance. Ellie, a normal girl who wants to hang with her friends and eat on the run, sees this development as a plus. She loves her dad, but he's clearly going overboard. From keeping his boss happy, his employees motivated and enduring his mother's tactless "advice" to raising a smart, grounded and healthy kid, it's going to be a growing experience, to say the least. But if anyone can handle it all, it's Sean. Thomas Lennon ("Reno 911"), Lindsay Sloane ("Weeds") and Echo Kellum ("Ben and Kate") also star. From executive producers Hayes ("Hot in Cleveland," "Grimm") and Todd Milliner ("Hot in Cleveland," "Grimm"), executive producer/director James Burrows ("Friends," "The Big Bang Theory") and writer/producer Victor Fresco ("Go On," "Mad About You"), "Sean Saves the World" is a production of Universal Television and Hazy Mills Productions.