Upfronts are next week, which means every broadcast network has a day set aside to announce new series and renewal decisions. Fox is getting an early start with a series order for the comedy pilot The New Girl (formerly titled Chicks and Dicks). Zooey Deschanel stars as “a quirky teacher who moves in with three guys — the cynic, the player and the man-child — after being dumped.” Jake M. Johnson, Max Greenfield, and Damon Wayans Jr. play the three guys; Hannah Simone also stars. Wayans Jr. currently stars in the ABC sitcom Happy Endings, which is on the bubble. If ABC renews the series, Fox will have to recast Wayans’ role. No Strings Attached writer Liz Meriwether created the series. Jake Kasdan (Walk Hard) directed the single-camera pilot.
[Update: A new report suggests Fox is near a deal to pick up the J.J. Abrams-produced drama Alcatraz. Details after the break.]
[Update 2: Click here for more Fox scheduling news, including the cancellation of Breaking In, Traffic Light, The Chicago Code, and Human Target]
Hit the jump for more on the shape of Fox in the coming television year.
For those keeping track, Fox is now committed to five new series for the 2011-12 season: Terra Nova, The X Factor, Allen Gregory, and Napoleon Dynamite, and now The New Girl. The sci-fi drama Terra Nova was originally set to debut in earlier in 2011. However, due to the intensive effects and massive scope, Terra Nova has been mired in production and post-production for ages, pushing the premiere back to Fall 2011 (knock on wood). An American version of the British reality hit The X Factor has been in the works even longer. And animated series require a long lead time, which necessitated early orders for the Napoleon Dynamite adaptation and Jonah Hill’s baby Allen Gregory.
[Update: Make that six new series. Variety hears Fox has given a series order to Alcatraz. The word in March suggested the network greenlit 12 episodes for production in Vancouver. Alcatraz stars Sarah Jones, Sam Neill, Jorge Garcia, Jason Butler Harner, and Jonny Coyne Head, and follows FBI agents and a female police officer as they track down a group of missing prisoners who disappeared thirty years prior. Count me in. So very, very in.]
Depending on how much time is allotted to The X Factor, these shows are worth about six hours of weekly programming. Fox will probably wait until May 16 (their upfront day) to make the official New Girl announcement, but there are few surprises left in new series. THR hears the Mike O’Malley-Rachael Harris comedy Family Album is a lock — same for the dramas Exit Strategy (starring Ethan Hawke) and Touch (led by Kiefer Sutherland).
The premise of The New Girl sounds kinda tired. But Deschanel, Meriwether, and Kasdan are a trio I’d like to see make some TV.
Oh, and let’s all agree to still call this Chicks and Dicks. It’s so much more evocative.