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Filthy Rich (FOX) pilot preview: When Empire goes south

GENRE: Soap Drama

LOGLINE: When the wealthy CEO of the world’s largest Christian network dies in a plane crash, his wife and adult children are stunned to discover he has grown, illegitimate kids who are also in his will. When the steel azalea matriarch of the family, Margaret Monroe, tries to pay them to go away, these newly legitimized heirs have very different ideas and insist on not only staying in town but becoming part of the family empire…

Pilot Cast: Kim Cattrall (Sex & The City, Tell Me A Story, Police Academy), Gerald McRaney (This Is Us, Simon & Simon, Major Dad), Aubrey Dollar (Battle Creek, Point Pleasant), Melia Kreiling (Salvation, Tyrant), Corey Cott (The Good Fight), Mike Harris (The Practice, Awake), Benjamin Aguilar, Mark L. Young (10 Days in the valley, The Inbetweeners), David Denman (Outcast, Thee Office), Olivia Macklin (The Young Pope)…
Series Creator: Tate Taylor
Pilot Director: Tate Taylor (The Help, The Girl on the Train).
Producers: Tate Taylor, John Norris, Francie Calfo & Brian Grazer (Empire, Parenthood, 24, Arrested Development, Genius).

Studios: 20th Century Fox Television, Imagine Television & Wyolah Films.

Ever wonder how TV executives wade through the dozens of pilot scripts they’re pitched each year? They have staff script readers, who provide what’s called “Script Coverage,” an executive summary and a recommendation for each script. Now you too can preview some of the season’s most buzzed about pilots and find out whether we’d recommend them for pickup. Note that all opinions are our own, and all plot, casting and other creative details described here are subject to change.



You’ll Like It If You Already Like: Empire, Dynasty, Dallas, Brothers & Sisters, Succession…

Likely Timeslot: Whether paired with Empire or used as its midseason replacement.


WRITTEN BY: Taylor Tate

PAGECOUNT: 60 pages

DRAFT: 1/21/18 (Last revision: 12/1/18


BACKGROUND:Filthy Rich is not just any pilot for FOX, it’s the first greenlight decision made by new FOX CEO of Entertainment Charlie Collier (previously at AMC). As a big fan of writer and director Tate Taylor’s work, he committed to a pilot order in the room, which isn’t something that happens frequently. FOX originally bought Filthy Rich last development season with a put pilot commitment. It did not go to pilot at that point (and Taylor went on to direct the movie Eve ), but both sides remained high on the project, leading to a pilot order this time around.

For actor-turned filmmaker Taylor, this is a very personal project since he was born and grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. The show is set in New Orleans, not that far away. He declared: “As a Southern man, I’m so excited to be telling this story of family, faith and ambition set in a place I grew up in and around.” Still, it’s based on a foreign show -like two other drama pilots at FOX out of six- from New Zealand. Actually, it was the country’s most expensive TV show ever! But they don’t produce a lot. It stayed on the air for two seasons before it got cancelled. It actually flopped and it didn’t even get good reviews.


SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: MARGARET MONROE (Mid60s) is the host of a popular Christian lifestyle show and the matriarch of a billion dollar family business operated by her husband, EUGENE (60s) and her children, ERIC (32) and ROSE (30). When Eugene, unexpectedly dies in a plane crash, his numerous infidelities come to light, along with three illegitimate adult children, GINGER (mid20s), a fierce woman with business savvy, who grew up dirt poor in Vegas, JASON (mid20s), an attractive, loyal young man who runs a weed business at a ranch in Colorado, and ANTONIO (19), a tattooed, up-and-coming boxer and single dad. Their introduction into the Monroes’ lives stands to threaten the family’s pristine reputation, as well as their business and wealth. After much prayer and unsuccessful tactics, Margaret makes a power play that upsets her son Eric: she publicly welcomes the three new Monroes into the family business. All family members, new and old, are forced to adjust to this strange, new family dynamic while the whole country is watching…


COMMENTS: Fox has described Filthy Rich as a “larger-than-life Southern gothic dramedy,” but let’s be clear: this is first and foremost a big, juicy soap, although it does become a surprisingly emotional family drama by the end of the pilot. That said, I’m not totally convinced the script sells the show very well. There’s a lot of exposition, and not much else. As promised, it is “larger-than-life,” which also means it’s totally unrealistic and that all the characters start as clichés, but it becomes more compelling as it goes along. It’s not about the basic opposition between wealthy, well-educated and brilliant children against poor, under-educated and moronic bastards. Some of the “bastards” are smarter than they seem to be and at least one of the wealthy children is not as entitled and manipulative as she could have been.

The pilot is very much centered around Margaret Monroe and Ginger Sweet (those names!) — strong, sharp women from two different generations who will go to any lengths to protect their loved ones and get their due. While they’re the show’s strongest assets, they also steal a good deal of thunder from the other characters. Rose, for example, feels a little bit left out. She’s got some good dialogue and a few fun moments, but she’s a bit weak compared to the other women around her. Hopefully her kind-hearted nature will make her more interesting at some point down the road. Likewise, her brother Eric, married with two kids and Senior VP of Operations at the conservative Christian Sunshine Network, doesn’t bring much to the table in the pilot. The new siblings are more intriguing, especially Jason, who we learn is not all that he would seem.

With Kim Cattrall as the leading lady, the rest of the cast will have to bring their A-game. Cattrall is a huge presence and her character is in line with strong matriarchs in soaps like Empire‘s Cookie or Dynasty‘s Alexis. It’s a perfect role for her. Margaret made me think of an older and more successful version of Desperate Housewives’ Bree Van de Kamp. Obsessed with perfection and appearances, she has a lifestyle show aimed at showing women how to be perfect housewives, but we all know that she just needs a little push before we see her true colors. For now, it’s clear that she’s a hypocrite — you never know when she’s sincere, especially when she reacts to the loss of her husband. A power couple like this is sure to have many secrets. By the way, Gerald McRaney who plays Eugene is a series regular even though he dies in the cold open, which means flashbacks are coming our way. Or maybe he’s not really dead — this is a soap after all, and conveniently his body was never found, supposedly eaten by alligatorsbut we’re not dumb! Fun fact: in the original show, he didn’t die on a plane crash, he commited suicide. I don’t know why they changed it. Maybe because it was too similar with ABC’s A Million Litte Things‘ story. Or maybe because they found it too dark. Or maybe because they want him back!

Although the pilot is missing a good cliffhanger, there are plenty of good directions for the series to take, especially when the whole Monroe family teams up. There’s also a political and social flavor to the show, but it’s not really the focus of the pilot and it may never be.


FINAL RECOMMENDATION: Soap amateurs may find in Filthy Rich their next obsession, especially now The CW’s Dynasty has lost its mojo already and FOX’s Empire has flamed out quickly, making headlines for behind-the-scenes scandals more than storylines and ratings. It’s not exactly groundbreaking but its southern setting, its gender politics’ theme, its delicious matriarch character and its immoral tendencies make it a good candidate for the network’s next soap sensation.



[  ] PASS

Shots Fired (FOX) pilot preview: A lesser American Crime


Also known as Indictment. Created & directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Beyond the Lights, The Secret Life of Bees, Love & Basketball). Co-created by Reggie Rock-Bythewood (Notorious BIG, Players, New York Undercover). Produced by Francie Calfo (Empire) & Brian Grazer (24, Friday Night Lights, Gang Related, Arrested Development). For FOX, 20th Century FOX Television, Imagine Television & Undisputed Cinema. 63 pages.

Description: A black officer shoots a white teen in a racially charged Tennessee town. Considering the unusual circumstances of this case, two out-of-town black prosecutors are brought in to sort through the evidence and find out what really happened. As the community grows anxious and the country is buzzing, Preston Terry and Ashe Bell must keep personal bias and suspicions to themselves to seek the truth…

With Sanaa Lathan (Nip/Tuck, Boss, Family Guy, Alien Vs Predator, Out of Time), Stephan James (Selma), Helen Hunt (Mad About You, As Good As It Gets, Twister), Richard Dreyfuss (Weeds, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind), Stephen Moyer (True Blood), Conor Leslie (Klondike, Other Space), Aisha Hinds (Under The Dome, True Blood), Tristan Wilds (The Wire, 90210DeWanda Wise

rate rate rate

I’ve just finished my American Crime season 1 binge-watching when I’m writing this article. So, sorry if this brilliant show comes up a lot during the following review but the truth is they share a lot and even though Shots Fired is a decent pilot script, it can’t compare to American Crime‘s. In any way. That’s said. The FOX “event series” as they call it -meaning it’s written as a miniseries but it could get a second one with a new story if it works- is described by the proud network as a “mystery-thriller drama”, but I don’t think it really fits with what I’ve read. It’s a cop show, mostly. Yeah, it doesn’t sound as exciting but it’s closer to the truth. And a few very serialized cop shows like The Killing are great so it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad and generic. Mystery implicates surprising plot twists and twisted characters. Not that kind of show. Thriller means suspense and action. Not that kind of show either.

At its core, Shots Fired tells the story of a detective investigation led by two very different people, whose main common thread is to be… highly desirable. And it doesn’t take long before they start being flirtatious. Yeah, it was obvious from the pitch it was going to happen. At least, they don’t try to hide it. Just a few pages and we’re right in the middle of it. Well… It took 9 seasons for Mulder & Scully. Why do I talk about those two beloved characters? Because they’re back and because when you look closely at the pitch of Shots Fired, it’s like The X-Files, without the monsters or any supernatural events. Except, maybe, the monsters are humans hiding in this town.

American Crime is an anomaly on ABC. It’s a cable show from start to finish. Shots Fired is very networky. It means it gets a better chance to work, especially if FOX decides to pair it with Empire, since they share a producer and most of all a potential afro-american audience with two black leads and a racially-charged topic. And I’m okay with it, don’t get me wrong. It’s cool to have a fair entertaining show that treats a subject which is resonating with the news, with America. Especially when the next presidential election is coming. Oh but.. FOX means… FOX News. And FOX News means Republican propaganda. Means Donald Trump! Means misinformation and guns for all. And suddenly I’m afraid the show could be instrumental for the campaign. And that’s a scary thought… But NOTHING in the pilot script resembled any sort of propaganda. And the writers are black themselves. It’s safe to assume it’s all gonna be OK.

Shots Fired tries to be realistic mostly, and that’s where I have a little disapointment: the script is not detailed to the point where you can really feel the atmosphere of this little town in Tennessee smothering you, like Modesto did in American Crime. There’s not the same raw emotion either. They want us to be comfortable in front of our TV. And when you decide to talk about such a sensitive subject, making people comfortable is not the best way to make your point, in my opinion. It should be a punch in the face. It should make you feel pain, you should be able to sense the despair of the population. Let’s take an example: there’s the mother of the victim. We briefly met her during one of those classical interrogation scenes we’ve seen a thousand times before in every cop show. There’s no emotion coming out of it. At least on the page. It’s lazy. And that’s a real problem to me. Then you think about Felicity Huffman’s character in American Crime, also the mother of the victim, and it’s definitely another level… But it’s not fair to compare words with acting. That being said, as a network show, it works. It’s efficient. You want to see more. It’s a good place to start and you can only hope it’s gonna get more ambitious along the way, more complex, more subtle. One can dream, hum?

With Shots Fired, the real question is not “Is it any good?” but “Is it up to the challenge?”. And I really fear it’s not. It needs to be ‘cos it’s serious stuff here, it’s politics. You can’t fuck this up. It would be a shame. It’s too important these days. This love story they’re forcing between the leads doesn’t reassure me at all, honestly. So okay, you understood me: Shots Fired is not American Crime. Never will be. It’s not great but it’s not bad either. Let the writers call the shots. We’ll see what they’re capable of.



EXCLUSIVE: FOX orders racially charged pilot “Indictment”


UPDATE: The project is now offically announced, as an event series with Sanaa Lathan as the lead. Per Deadline, “A pilot script has been completed, which the network has followed up by ordering a bible with the intention of picking up the project straight to series once the bible is delivered”.

FOX really is distancing from pilot season with another drama pilot ordered now for next year (after Star, Urban Cowboy & Son of Zahn). The racially charged project called “Indictment” could be compared to ABC’s “American Crime” and resonates with what’s happening right now in the US.

Written by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Beyond the lies, The secret life of bees) and produced by Brian Grazer & Francie Calfo for Imagine Television, the show starts when a black officer shoots a white teen in a racially charged Tennessee town. Considering the unusual circumstances of this case, two out-of-town black prosecutors are brought in to sort through the evidence and find out what really happened. As the community grows anxious and the country is buzzing, Preston Terry and Ashe Bell must keep personal bias and suspicions to themselves to seek the truth…

In spite of the early order, the pilot is not expected to shoot until March during the traditional pilot season but casting starts now before the pool of talents available shrinks.