NBC has made an official commitment to "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," giving the Aaron Sorkin drama a spot on its fall schedule for 2006-07.
The early pickup isn't too much of a surprise, given its pedigree -- Sorkin and fellow executive producer Thomas Schlamme were the driving forces behind "The West Wing" -- and the seven-figure penalty NBC reportedly would have had to pay producer Warner Bros. TV had the pilot not been given a series green light.
"Studio 60," about the backstage politics of a long-running sketch comedy show not unlike "Saturday Night Live," is the third drama pilot NBC has picked up for next season, following "The Black Donnellys" and "Kidnapped." The network will announce its full schedule Monday, May 15 at its upfront presentation to advertisers.
"Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme's work is TV at its best, and 'Studio 60' lives up to that standard," NBC Entertainment boss Kevin Reilly says. "I'm thrilled they are back on NBC for the fall."
The show stars Matthew Perry ("Friends") and "West Wing" alumnus Bradley Whitford as a creative team who return to the show-within-the-show in the wake of a televised meltdown by its producer. Amanda Peet ("Syriana"), D.L. Hughley ("Weekends at the D.L."), Sarah Paulson ("Deadwood"), Timothy Busfield ("The West Wing"), Nathan Corddry ("The Daily Show"), Steven Weber ("Reefer Madness"), Evan Handler ("Sex and the City") and Carlos Jacott ("Kicking and Screaming") round out the cast.
With the three early pickups, the addition of Sunday-night NFL games and a host of renewals of current shows, there's not a lot of room left on NBC's fall schedule. It's likely the network will order a comedy or two to pair with "My Name Is Earl" and "The Office," which would leave room for maybe one or two more drama pilots.