Samara Weaving, who starred in Scream VI, is set to star in and executive produce Little Sky, a single-camera comedy series that Netflix has ordered a pilot for. This is a departure from Netflix’s typical straight-to-series model, as Little Sky is the only pilot currently planned. The decision to order a pilot was specific to Little Sky, as executives were enthusiastic about the concept but wanted to ensure the tone and chemistry of the ensemble were right before committing to a full series.
Little Sky follows Penelope Paul Porter, played by Weaving, as she pursues her dream of becoming a respected news reporter, despite being terrible at it. When she receives an anonymous tip about the missing mayor of Little Sky, she sees an opportunity to prove herself, but soon discovers something much darker than she could have imagined.
Pilots are a valuable tool in comedy development, allowing for the testing of cast chemistry, tone, and timing. While Netflix typically employs a straight-to-series model, some of its half-hour shows have not gone beyond the first season, effectively serving as pilots.
The comedy creative community had long hoped for Netflix to reconsider its no-pilot policy, particularly after Bela Bajaria, who has a broadcast background, was appointed as head of Global TV in September 2020, and with the addition of comedy veterans Tracey Pakosta and Andy Weil. In recent months, there has been speculation that Netflix might be open to comedy pilots.
If Little Sky’s pilot is successful, it could pave the way for more pilot projects, giving Netflix another tool for its development process. However, sources say there are no plans for a pilot season with multiple pilot orders. While Netflix and Apple have largely stuck to straight-to-series orders, HBO Max, Amazon, and Peacock have employed a dual model, including both straight-to-series and pilot orders, primarily in the comedy and YA drama genres.
Netflix has benefited from the pilot model by picking up original series that began as pilots elsewhere, such as Arrested Development, Lucifer, and Manifest. Additionally, many network series developed under the pilot model are performing well on Netflix in a streaming window.
Netflix is testing the waters of the pilot development model with Little Sky, a single-camera comedy starring Samara Weaving (Scream VI), who is also serving as an executive producer. Creator Rightor Doyle (Bonding) will direct the pilot. While Netflix has exclusively employed a straight-to-series model since its original programming launch 12 years ago, the decision to do a pilot was made because executives were enthusiastic about the concept but wanted to ensure that the tone and chemistry of the large ensemble were right. Little Sky will be the only pilot currently planned at Netflix, and sources warn that this does not signify a permanent development shift.
The move is significant, as pilots have traditionally been considered valuable proofs of concept, particularly in comedy where cast chemistry, tone, and comedic timing are critical. If Little Sky is successful, Netflix may consider additional pilots as another tool in its development toolbox, which currently consists mostly of script-to-series commitments and mini-rooms. However, sources note that there are no plans for a pilot season with multiple pilot orders competing against each other.
Netflix has benefited from the pilot model, having picked up original series that began as pilots elsewhere, including Arrested Development (comedy) and Lucifer and Manifest (dramas). In contrast to other streaming services like HBO Max, Amazon, and Peacock, which utilize a dual model involving both straight-to-series orders and pilots, Netflix and Apple have stuck to straight-to-series orders exclusively.
Netflix’s current hit comedy series include Cobra Kai, Never Have I Ever, The Upshaws, and Emily in Paris. The streamer has experimented more with comedy than other genres, with recent ventures including a live telecast debut of a comedy special, Chris Rock: Selective Outrage, which made the Global Top 10.
Little Sky follows Penelope Paul Porter (Weaving), a woman determined to achieve her lifelong dream of being a respected on-air news reporter, even though she may be the worst reporter ever. She sees an opportunity to prove herself when she receives an anonymous tip that the Mayor of Little Sky is missing. Upon arriving in the spooky and remote town, she thinks she’s onto a major story, only to discover that she’s stumbled upon something far darker than she could have ever imagined.
Weaving is represented by CAA, 111 Media, and Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole, and Doyle is represented by Anonymous Content and Jackoway Austen Tyerman.