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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Football Wives, Steel Magnolias and 25 other TV pilots you may have missed

Every May the five major television networks unveil their fall prime time schedules and, of course, there are many TV pilots that fail to make the cut. So I thought it would be fun to look back at some of these rejected shows.

The Jane Powell Show
In this unaired 1961 sitcom, the actress (Royal Wedding, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) played a nightclub singer who marries a professor (Russell Johnson, who later played "The Professor" on Gilligan's Island).

The Ginger Rogers Show
The Academy Award-winning actress (Kitty Foyle) played twin sisters in this sitcom, which aired on CBS's Vacation Playhouse as Love Affair For Just Three on July 22, 1963.

Long before the comic book character Archie Andrews showed up on The CW's Riverdale, this unsold 1964 sitcom starred John Simpson as Archie and William Schallert (The Patty Duke Show, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries) as Archie's father.

The Decorator
Produced by Aaron Spelling (The Love Boat, Dynasty) and co-written by Mart Crowley (The Boys in the Band), this unaired and unsold 1965 sitcom starred Academy Award winner Bette Davis as an interior decorator and Mary Wickes as her assistant.

The Carol Channing Show
Produced and directed by Desi Arnaz, this unaired 1966 sitcom starred the Tony Award winner (Hello, Dolly!) as Carol Honeycutt, a small town girl trying to break into show business in New York City.

Future Academy Award winner Richard Dreyfuss (The Goodbye Girl) starred in this CBS sitcom version of the 1970 film, which aired on May 21, 1973.

Evel Knievel
Based on the life of the motorcycle daredevil, this CBS pilot starred Sam Elliott, and it aired on March 29, 1974.

This NBC crime drama starred future Emmy and Golden Globe winner Tom Selleck (Magnum, P.I.), future Golden Globe nominee Robert Urich (Vega$) and future Daytime Emmy winner Donna Mills (General Hospital, Knots Landing) as cops. It aired on January 13, 1977.

Beane's of Boston
This American adaption of the British sitcom, Are You Being Served?, starred John Hillerman (Magnum, P.I.), Tom Poston (Newhart), Alan Sues (Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In), Lorna Patterson (Private Benjamin) and Charlotte Rae (The Facts of Life) as Mrs. Slocombe. It aired on CBS on May 5, 1979.

Changing Patterns
Academy Award nominees Valerie Perrine (Lenny) and Brenda Vaccaro (Once Is Not Enough) played housewives trying to enter the fashion industry in this CBS sitcom, which aired on June 26, 1987.

The Art of Being Nick
In between her stints on Saturday Night Live and Seinfeld, future Emmy winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus appeared in this NBC sitcom spin-off from Family Ties starring Scott Valentine as his FT character, Nick Moore. It aired on August 27, 1987.

In the Lion's Den
Future Academy Award winner Marcia Gay Harden (Pollock) appeared in this CBS sitcom about a PBS puppet show. It aired on September 4, 1987.

American Nuclear
Future Academy Award nominee Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right, Foxcatcher, Spotlight) played James Farentino's son in this CBS series, which aired on July 25, 1989.

Curse of the Corn People
Future Academy Award nominee Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich, Capote) starred in this CBS drama about a group of friends making a horror movie. It aired on August 1, 1989.

Shangri-La Plaza
Co-created by Nick Castle (who played Michael Myers in 1978's Halloween), this CBS musical-comedy pilot starred Melora Hardin, Academy Award nominee Chris Sarandon (Dog Day Afternoon), jazz singer Carmen Lundy, Tony Award nominee Terrence Mann (Les Misérables) and future Tony Award winner Savion Glover (Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk). It aired on July 30, 1990.

Steel Magnolias
Robert Harling, who wrote the 1989 film adaptation of his 1987 play, decided to continue the story in this CBS sitcom pilot (which aired on August 17, 1990). The cast included Cindy Williams (as M'Lynn), Sally Kirland (as Truvy), Elaine Stritch (as Ouiser), Polly Bergen (as Clairee) and Sheila McCarthy (as Annelle).

Written and produced by Conan O'Brien and Robert Smigel, this NBC sitcom starred Adam West (Batman) as a former TV detective who believes he can solve crimes in real life. It aired on July 28, 1991.

Acting Sheriff
Grammy and Tony Award winner Robert Goulet played as B-movie actor who is elected sheriff of a small town in this CBS sitcom, which aired on August 17, 1991. The cast also included John Putch, Hillary Bailey Smith, Ruth Kobart, Diane Delano and Lee Tergesen.

Driving Miss Daisy
Alfred Uhry, who wrote the 1992 Academy Award-winning film adaptation of his 1987 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, adapted the story for this CBS sitcom starring Emmy winner Robert Guillaume (Benson, Soap), Joan Plowright, Saul Rubinek, Theresa Merritt (That's My Mama) and Hillary Bailey Smith. It aired on August 21, 1992.

Set in colonial Philadelphia, this CBS sitcom starred Academy Award nominee Ryan O'Neal (Love Story) as an innkeeper, Lesley-Anne Down as his wife, and Adam West (Batman) as his brother-in-law, George Washington. It aired on September 5, 1992.

The Elvira Show
This unaired 1993 CBS sitcom starred Cassandra Peterson as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, and Golden Globe winner Katherine Helmond (Soap, Who's the Boss?) as her wacky Aunt Minerva.

Gloria Vane
Written by Joe Keenan and directed by James Burrows, this unaired 1993 sitcom starred JoBeth Williams as a temperamental movie star in 1938. The cast also included Nina Foch, Harriet Harris, Lisa Banes, Edward Hibbert and Carole Cook.

Dear Diary
This 1996 ABC sitcom starring Emmy winner Bebe Neuwirth (Cheers) became the only TV pilot to ever win an Oscar (for Best Live Action Short Film).

Directed by actress Kathy Bates, this unaired 1997 pilot continued the story of the 1996 film and starred future Emmy Award winner Edie Falco (The Sopranos, Nurse Jackie) as Marge Gunderson.

L.A. Confidential
Based on the 1997 film, this unaired 2000 Fox drama starred Kiefer Sutherland (in the Kevin Spacey role), Josh Hopkins (in the Russell Crowe role), David Conrad (in the Guy Pearce role), Pruitt Taylor Vince (in the Danny DeVito role) and Melissa George (in the Kim Basinger role).

Alligator Point
Nathan Fillion played a fisherman in a quirky Florida town in this unaired 2003 NBC sitcom, which also starred Paula Marshall, James McDaniel, Jim Rash, Jaime Pressly and Park Overall.

Football Wives
Based on the successful British TV drama, Footballers' Wives, this unaired 2007 ABC drama starred Gabrielle Union, Lucy Lawless, Eddie Cibrian, Ving Rhames, James Van Der Beek and Holly Robinson-Peete.

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