Netflix Orders Its First Pilot Ever – Comedy ‘Little Sky’ Starring Samara Weaving

Samara remains booked and busy! It’s been revealed that she has teamed up with Netflix for an exciting new project titled ‘Little Sky’, which she’ll both star in and produce. Read on for more details!

DEADLINE EXCLUSIVE: Netflix is dipping its toe into the pilot development model with Little Sky, a single-camera comedy starring and executive produced by Samara Weaving (Scream VI). The streamer has ordered a pilot for the project, from creator Rightor Doyle (Down Low) who is also set to direct.

Sources caution that this does not signal a permanent development shift. Little Sky is currently the only pilot planned at Netflix, which has been employing a straight-to-series model exclusively since venturing into original programming 12 years ago. I hear the decision was specific to Little Sky as executives were high on the concept but wanted to see a pilot to make sure the tone and the chemistry of the large ensemble were right, setting the project up for success.

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Little Sky centers on Penelope Paul Porter (Weaving) who is determined to realize her lifelong dream of being a respected on-air news reporter (despite the fact she may be the worst reporter of all time). When she receives an anonymous tip that the Mayor of Little Sky is missing, she knows it’s her chance to finally prove herself. Arriving in the spooky, remote town of Little Sky, she senses she’s on to a big story – but little does she know she’s stumbled upon something much darker than she could have ever imagined.

Netflix’s willingness to try out the pilot model is significant. Pilots, a longtime staple of the network development model, are considered valuable proofs of concept, especially in comedy where cast chemistry, tone and comedic timing are key. A solid pilot increases a comedy’s chances for success as a series. For Netflix, first seasons serve as de facto pilots, so some of its half-hour series inevitably have not gone beyond that.

The comedy creative community had been hoping that Netflix would soften its longstanding no-pilots stance, first after Bela Bajaria, who comes from a broadcast background, was named head of Global TV in September 2020 and especially after she brought in network veteran Tracey Pakosta as Head of Comedy in November 2020 to work alongside another former broadcast comedy executive, VP Andy Weil.

There had been chatter over the past couple of months that Netflix might be open to comedy pilots. If the Little Sky experiment is successful, the streamer would presumably do more, adding another tool to its development toolbox which currently consists largely of script-to-series commitments and mini-rooms. But there are no plans for a pilot season with orders of multiple pilots that are weighed against each other, sources said.

Of the streamers, Netflix and Apple had stuck to straight-to-series orders only. HBO Max, Amazon (for both Prime Video and Freevee) and Peacock have all employed a dual model that involves both straight-to-series pickups and pilots, primarily in the comedy and YA drama space.

Netflix has been the beneficiary of the pilot model, picking up original series that had started as pilots elsewhere, including comedy Arrested Development and dramas Lucifer and Manifest. Additionally, a number of network series developed under that model are doing well on Netflix in a streaming window.

While recent Netflix comedy breakout, the multi-camera That ’90s Show, which has been renewed for a second season, did not do a pilot, its predecessor, That ’70s Show, whose continuing popularity played a major role in the sequel’s success, did at Fox two and a half decades ago.

Netflix’s current slate of hit comedy series include Cobra Kai and Never Have I Ever, which both are headed into their final seasons, The Upshaws and Emily in Paris. New comedy Unstable with Rob Lowe just debuted on the service. Coming up next are Survival of the Thickest (Michelle Buteau); The Vince Staples Show; an Untitled Kristen Bell Comedy; and an Untitled Mike Schur/Ted Danson comedy as well as Season 3 of Girls5eva, which is moving from Peacock.

The streamer also is home to praised comedies Mo, which will return for a second and final season, and I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson.

Creator-director Doyle executive produces Little Sky for King Lulu. His manager Dara Gordon is an executive producer for Anonymous Content. Weaving is also an executive producer.

This marks Weaving’s return to Netflix where she starred in the Ryan Murphy limited series Hollywood. She currently stars in the $142M-grossing Scream VI and can be seen in Searchlight’s upcoming Chevalier on April 21. Weaving also starred in Babylon, Snake Eyes and Bill & Ted Face the Music and broke out stateside in Searchlight’s horror hit Ready or Not. In TV, she also starred in the Hulu limited series Nine Perfect Strangers. Weaving, who recently signed on to star in the Larysa Kondracki-directed action thriller Bella in the works at Paramount Pictures, is repped by CAA, 111 Media and Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole.

Doyle also is returning to Netflix. He previously created, directed and executive produced the streamer’s 2019 dark comedy series Bonding, which ran for two seasons. He made his feature directing debut with comedy Down Low, starring Lukas Gage and Zachary Quinto, which just premiered at SXSW. As an actor, Doyle recurs on HBO’s hit comedy Barry. He is repped by Anonymous Content and Jackoway Austen Tyerman.