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ABC Picks Up Two Pilots Including Toni Collette Spy Dramedy

Variety logo Variety 2/1/2017 Elizabeth Wagmeister
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ABC has picked up two more pilots, including “Unit Zero,” an action spy dramedy starring Toni Collette from “Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris, Variety has learned.

The network also ordered the thriller “Salamander,” based on the Belgian format.

“Unit Zero” follows Jackie Fink (Collette), a brilliant but unassuming CIA engineer and single mom, as she leads a team of desk jockeys into the field as secret agents. Overlooked in the workplace, their invisibility makes them perfect for the CIA’s most covert missions.

The hourlong dramedy was created by “Black-ish” writer/producer Lindsey Shockley, who will serve as executive producer with Barris. “Pineapple Express” director David Gordon Green has signed onto direct the pilot. ABC Studios is also behind “Unit Zero.”

For Barris, “Unit Zero” marks his second pilot pickup at ABC, following the comedy “Libby & Malcolm,” which will star Felicity Huffman and Courtney B. Vance. Barris attached talent to both of his projects early during development season, which helped push them along to formal pilot orders. Barris also has a third project in contention for the 2017-2018 season: a “Black-ish” spinoff focused on Yara Shahidi’s character, which will be introduced this spring as a backdoor pilot during the flagship series.

“Salamander” follows a brilliant but misanthropic engineer who recruits a skeptical Homeland Security agent to help him track a mysterious bank robber whose theft of 66 specific safety deposit boxes, belonging to the elite and powerful, sets in motion a series of blackmails that may be linked to a greater conspiracy.

The pilot was penned by Jeff Pinkner, Andre Nemec, Josh Applebaum and Scott Rosenberg of Midnight Radio. The four scribes will all serve as executive producers. ABC Studios is producing, along with Keshet and Beta Film.

“Salamander” and “Unit Zero” join a hefty slate of pilots at ABC, which has ordered the most pilots of any broadcast network, at this point.

On the comedy side, the network has greenlit pilots for “Libby & Malcolm;” “Start Up,” starring Zach Braff; “Raised By Wolves” from Greg Berlanti and Diablo Cody; a series about a city mayor from “Hamilton” star Daveed Diggs; plus female buddy cop sitcom “The Trustee” from exec producer Elizabeth Banks. On the drama side, ABC has picked up pilots for a Shondaland legal drama; time-travel series “The Crossing;” magician vehicle “Deception;” Carol Mendelsohn’s “Doomsday;” Daniel Dae Kim’s “The Good Doctor;” a project from Marc Cherry starring Reba McEntire; and a light-hearted hourlong, “The Gospel of Kevin,” from Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters.

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