Welcome back to the Pilot Pirate, where we preview the latest scripts looking for a home on the 2011-12 primetime TV schedule. Each week, we read and preview some of the projects interest to the AfterEllen community, breaking down scripts to help you, the optimistic TV fan anxiously awaiting the next Modern Family or Glee, keep up with the onslaught of pilots in contention.
A reminder: These are early stage scripts that are likely to be revised and, in some cases, drastically change before filming, and only some of which will make it to the airwaves.
This week: Georgetown and the untitled Whitney Cummings Project.
Pilot: Georgtown (drama)
Writers: Will Fetters (Remember Me)
Logline: A sexy soap revolving around the young people behind the power brokers of Washington, D.C.
Cast: James Wolk (Lone Star), Katie Cassidy (Melrose Place reboot), Daisy Betts (Persons Unknown), Condola Rashad (The Good Wife)
Director: Mark Piznarski (Gossip Girl, 90210)
Executive producers: Josh Schwartz (The O.C., Gossip Girl Chuck), Stephanie Savage (Gossip Girl, The O.C.), Len Goldstein (Heart of Dixie)
Andrew Pierce, 29, handsome and charming speechwriter (Wolk)
Bryce Johnson, 28, inquisitive reporter trying to work her way off the “style” beat
Samantha “Sam” Whitman, 29, pretty, grounded and moralistic center of group of young friends; an aide to the White House’s senior adviser
Michael Kline, White House senior adviser
Deanna Kline, Michael’s wife
Peter Brooks, 28, young-looking bookish type; a researcher in the White House library
Harper Hawley, 24, cute emo girl and Andrew’s assistant
Nikki Argo, 28, former model; now an up and coming member of the White House’s communications team
Vincent Feig, White House chief of staff
Gale Sullivan, communication’s director and Nikki’s boss
Len Foster, the top political journalist in Washington and Bryce’s boss
Montgomery “Monty” Knox, a classmate of Andrew, Sam, Peter, Nikki and Bryce’s and an opportunistic venture capitalist
Stacy Kristol, a cunning White House analyst out for Peter’s job
Caroline Wallace, a Republican senator who’s the bane of existence for the Democrat-controlled White House staff
Condola Rashad, who plays lesbian character Bryce Johnson
I’m not a big fan of primetime soaps like Desperate Housewives. With Housewives, I find the women trite and mostly devoid of characteristics that make them truly compelling characters. Considering Georgetown’s premise, I went in expecting Housewives with a sprinkling of The West Wing. What I got, however, was the politics of The West Wing with a dash of the soapy Melrose Place.
Georgetown is among the most promising pilots this season. It’s a smart workplace drama about a group of young former college friends who now work in Washington and navigate both sides of the aisle — as well as their interconnected personal lives and how their personal politics play into their professional ones.
Everything here revolves around James Wolk’s Andrew, the youngest speechwriter for the president. His ex-girlfriend, Daisy Betts’ Sam, is Washington royalty and the daughter of a heavyweight politico (it’s unclear just who her father is in the pilot). The pair are roommates with Peter, a bumbling nerdy bookish type, and Nikki, a former model turned Washington communications staffer.
Also in the mix is Bryce Johnson (Condola Rashad), a gay 28-year-old female reporter who has friends — Nikki, Andrew, Sam and Peter — in high places and who’s working diligently to be taken off the style beat at Washington’s most influential political blog. Among the costs of Bryce’s hard work: her girlfriend. In the script, Bryce bows to pressure from her boss and abandons her girlfriend on her birthday. While it’s unclear if Bryce is out at work or among her friends, it’s refreshing to see lesbian characters who are neither coming out or pregnant. Either way, add a pair of lesbians to primetime should Georgetown get picked up to series. (Bryce’s unnamed girlfriend has yet to be cast.)
What also makes the ABC drama pilot so strong is its throng of characters. Each of our young hotshots have older, more senior officials to whom they report and interact with. The first lady attempts to set Nikki up on a blind date; Sam’s boss, the White House senior IMD, knows his wife is having an affair and is keeping their separation a secret since the midterm election is approaching and he doesn’t want his personal life to impact the president’s focus.
Overall, Georgetown is a compelling read with compelling characters you want to root both for and against. Besides, I’ll get on board just about anything with a lesbian reporter.
Pilot Pirate outlook: Your party affiliation doesn’t matter — just don’t miss the party.