PILOT LOCATIONS: Los Angeles Makes Drama Rebound, New York Gains In Comedy, New Orleans Hot

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Following several years of declines in the number of drama pilots shot in Los Angeles, the City of Angels staged a comeback this season with 14, reclaiming the top spot as the most popular drama pilot destination after falling for the first time to No. 3 last year behind New York and Vancouver. Los Angeles benefited from the increased overall pilot volume this season, housing 13 of this year’s 48 hourlong pilots, up from 8 (out of 41) last year and 11 (out of 42) the year before, and just short of the 2010 haul of 14 pilots (out of 43).

New York, fresh off luring back The Tonight Show, has become a comedy pilot magnet. The Big Apple already has solid comedy credentials on the cable side with FX’s Louie and HBO’s Girls, but I can’t think of any major half-hour broadcast pilot shot in New York since NBC’s 30 Rock, which just ended its seven-season run. This year, there were a whopping five (all single-camera): NBC’s Michael J. Fox project, which has straight-to-series order, and Assistance; CBS’ Jim Gaffigan and untitled Rottenberg & Zuritzsky project; and Fox’s Us And Them. In some cases, the choice of location was dictated by talent (like Fox). In others, the producers felt it was hard to fake New York or the East Coast in Los Angeles, where virtually all comedy broadcast series have been filming. The 2010 New York filming tax program, which already led to the explosion of NY drama pilot production from zero pilots in 2010 to 11 last year, is helping rein in production costs, which are still higher than a Los Angeles-based half-hour pilot but not by as much as before. With the comedy boon, New York managed to post a new record of 13 pilots, though the number of dramas slipped from 11 to eight.

NY’s comedy breakthrough pushed the number of comedy pilots shot in LA down from 45 (100%) last year to 42 (89%). The bad news for LA is that the comedy defectors are all single-camera, which means location shoots. Still, the rise in LA-based drama pilots more than offset that. After years of declines and marginal increases, LA production was up 17% in the first quarter year-over-year, fueled by a 37.3% gain in TV pilots, according to FilmLA.

Slipping from second place to third in drama pilot production this year is Vancouver with seven pilots, down from nine in 2012. As a whole, 11 drama pilots were filmed outside of the U.S. this year, down a notch from 12 last year despite the overall number of drama pilots going up.

Within the U.S., not surprisingly most popular were states with generous filming tax incentives like Louisiana, whose New Orleans was the biggest gainer with four pilots vs. zero last year; Georgia and Illinois; and New Mexico, which scored two pilots on the heels of signing the so-called “Breaking Bad” bill into law. Here is a breakdown of this year’s drama pilots by location:

Los Angeles (13)

S.H.I.E.L.D.

Westside

Advocates

Anatomy Of Violence

Beverly Hills Cop

NCIS: LA spinoff

Boomerang

Delirium

Gang Related

Rake

The List

Rand Ravich

Bloodline

New York (8 dramas + 5 comedies)

Believe

The Blacklist

Ironside

Hostages

The Ordained

The Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives

The Tomorrow People

Murder In Manhattan

Vancouver (7)

Big Thunder

Backstrom

The 100

Human

Blink

I Am Victor

Intelligence

New Orleans (4)

Oxygen

Reckless (ABC)

Second Sight

The Originals (New Orleans/Atlanta)

Atlanta (3)

Surgeon General

The Originals (New Orleans/Atlanta)

The Returned

Chicago (2)

Betrayal  

Doubt

New Mexico (2)

After Hours

The Sixth Gun

Others

USA

Killer Women (Austin, TX)

CBS’ Reckless (Charlston, SC)

Company Town (Norfolk, Virginia)

Sleepy Hollow (Charlotte, NC)

Hatfields & McCoys (Boston)

Canada

Lucky 7 (Toronto)

Gothica (Montreal)

Europe

Reign (Ireland)

Selection (Budapest, Hungary)

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