Wonder Woman Grounded

NBC hangs up golden lasso, but female leads abound

While female leads will be well represented in the 2011-12 broadcast season, one high-profile woman has found herself shut out.

After months of breathless speculation––a frenzy fueled by the release of this photograph––NBC has grounded Wonder Woman’s invisible jet. Passed over by ABC, CBS, Fox, and The CW, David E. Kelly’s reboot of the 1975-79 Lynda Carter hit seemed to have found a home with NBC in January, when entertainment president Bob Greenblatt ordered a pilot.

Friday Night Lights’ Adrianne Palicki was tapped to star as the Amazonian princess, in a role that would have seen her juggling three distinct identities. Warner Bros. TV began production on the series in March, and a steady stream of photos of Palicki in her Wonder Woman motley kept fanboys salivating.

Sources indicate that Wonder Woman was doomed by a weak screening and a somewhat muddled script. While NBC has not officially confirmed the fate of Wonder Woman, Palicki reportedly was informed about the network’s decision yesterday.

Meanwhile, NBC has revealed pick-ups on three new dramas: The Playboy Club, Grimm, and Awake. A period piece (Chicago in the 1960s), Playboy stars Amber Heard as a working class Bunny. The oddball Grimm is a fantasy-tinged police drama, while Awake (formerly known as R.E.M.) is a psychological thriller/procedural from Lone Star creator Kyle Killen.

The Peacock’s comedy order offers a mother lode of female leads, including Whitney Cummings in Whitney, a traditional sit-com based on the comedian’s raucous stand-up material; Maria Bello in the stateside remake of the BBC series Prime Suspect; and Christina Applegate in Up All Night (formerly Alpha Mom), a single-camera comedy co-starring Will Arnett.

Fox has also loaded up on female-centric series, ordering The New Girl, starring Zooey Deschanel, and I Hate My Teenage Daughter, featuring Jamie Pressly. Both projects were created and written by women.

CBS is mulling over another Cummings project: Two Broke Girls would star Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs as a pair of cash-strapped Brooklynites. Also on the table is Ringer, a mystery starring Buffy alum Sarah Michelle Gellar that’s said to be a favorite of entertainment president Nina Tassler.

ABC is almost certain to give the go-ahead to Good Christian Bitches, although with an alternate, advertiser-friendly title. Kristin Chenowith and Leslie Bibb star. Also a shoo-in is the Charlie’s Angels refresh, starring Minka Kelly, Annie Ilonzeh, and Rachael Taylor.

Naturally, women are well represented on The CW’s short list, given the network’s target demo. Kevin Williamson’s Secret Circle stars Brittany Robertson of the short-lived Life Unexpected, while Rachel Bilson is said to be winning over screening audiences in Josh Schwartz’ fish-out-of-water strip, Hart of Dixie.

All will be revealed next week in New York when the broadcasters unveil their prime-time programming schedules during the 2011-12 upfront presentations.