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ABC Picks Up Another Pilot From Rob Thomas

Rob Thomas = The New Josh Schwartz?


OK, so it's not like Josh Schwartz needs to be replaced — with Gossip Girl and Chuck both coming back for second seasons, the OC ingenue is doing just fine, thanks. But Rob Thomas, creator of the late, great Veronica Mars, seems like he's about to give Schwartz a run for his money for the title of busiest man in TV.

We were impressed when Schwartz got two pilots last season; Thomas now has three: a remake of his own 1998 show, Cupid for ABC; a Beverly Hills, 90210 spinoff for the CW; and, most recently, a remake of New Zealand's Outrageous Fortune, also for ABC. Whew.

It's not just the sheer volume of work that makes me think Thomas is the Schwartz of this year's pilot season. They've got some other things in common, too:

  • They both discover unheralded young talent. Schwartz gets to claim Mischa Barton, Rachel Bilson, Adam Brody, and a big chunk of the cast of Gossip Girl. But Thomas has a big-time rising star in his own back pocket: Kristen Bell. Does one sassy teen detective trump a whole quiver of rich kids?
  • They both write great teen heroines. Thomas' Veronica Mars experience is what gives me hope for the 90210 project, while Schwartz takes the Dawson's Creek-style "nobody talks like that, but man, I wish they did" dialogue to a whole new level.
  • They both respond well to adversity. Just months after Schwartz's first show was canceled, he was back with two pilots — both of which have gone on to become buzzed-about series. Thomas spent his year post-Veronica Mars bouncing around various ABC shows (Big Shots, Miss/Guided), but now he's found his footing by reworking three older series — including one of his own that he wants to do better.

Not to mention, if networks keep pushing so hard for reality programming, pretty soon a huge percentage of our comedies and dramas will be written by these two guys. To see a short promo for the show Thomas most recently signed on to remake, about a criminal family that tries to go legit, just read more.

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