ABC Passes on ‘Epic’ Disney Drama From ‘Once Upon a Time’ Creators


Epic, the Disney-themed fairy tale anthology, is not moving forward at ABC.

The Disney-owned broadcast network has opted to not pick up the drama pilot to series. Ordered to pilot in January under new network topper Craig Erwich, Epic would have marked a homecoming to ABC for Once Upon a Time creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis. The duo exec produced Epic alongside writer Brigitte Hales, who previously worked with Horowitz and Kitsis on Once Upon a Time and their short-lived Apple anthology Amazing Stories.

Sources say the pilot didn’t come in strong despite execs being excited about the script. The pilot was filmed in Ireland, and, because of the pandemic, Kitsis and Horowitz were unable to go on location for the shoot.

Brittany O’Grady (Apple’s recently canceled Little Voice), Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland and Eleanor Fanyinka starred in Epic. The pilot was produced by ABC Signature, where Kitsis and Horowitz remain based with a rich overall deal. The duo inked a four-year renewal back in 2018 that at the time was believed to have made Kitsis and Horowitz the highest-paid drama producers at the studio following Shonda Rhimes’ move to Netflix.

Kitsis and Horowitz remain at work on their Beauty and the Beast prequel series for Disney+. The limited series, starring Josh Gad and Luke Evans reprising their roles from the 2017 reboot, scored an eight-episode series order in June. Kitsis, Horowitz and Gad — who previously teamed to develop a Muppets update for Disney+ — will write scripts and serve as showrunners.

The decision to pass on Epic, which had been a front-runner at ABC, comes as the network earlier Wednesday handed out a series pickup for Promised Land. The Latinx family drama was picked up to pilot earlier this year alongside Epic as both remained in contention for a midseason bow.

As a result of the pandemic, broadcast networks have shifted more to a year-round development schedule, with pilots in contention beyond the traditional start of the year. Pilot season has always been an insane time of year as all five broadcast networks compete for top talent, directors and filming locations in the same three-month window. The shift to year-round follows a cable and streaming model while also allowing broadcast networks to take extra time with scripts.

ABC has now made decisions on all of its pilot orders. The network has a total of five new scripted series for the 2021-22 broadcast season: Promised Land and hip-hop drama Queens; and single-camera comedies Abbott Elementary, Maggie and The Wonder Years.

Keep track of all the renewals, cancellations and new series orders with THR’s handy scorecard and click here for the latest on all the broadcast pilots.

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