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maandag 28 januari 2013

Comedy Pilot Guide 2013/2014

Not only is this the time of year when television networks adjust their midseason schedules and premiere new series, but it's also pilot season. Broadcast and cable networks sift through the myriad projects they have in development hoping to uncover the next big breakout comedy or drama.

With many projects already casting, here's the Comedy Pilot Guide, featuring a look at the comedy pilots that are vying for a slot on the schedule next season. Also included, where noted, are the handful of new projects that bypassed the pilot stage and have already been picked up to series.


- How the Hell Am I Normal?. Described as a "dysfunctional Wonder Years" set in the simpler times of the 1980s, this semi-autobiographical comedy is based on the childhood of creator Adam F. Goldberg (Breaking In) as he grew up in a highly screwed up yet loving family. The single-camera project, which previously bore the edgier title How the F--- Am I Normal, centers on a confrontational mother and a hot tempered father who love their three eccentric children so much, they can't bear to see them grow up. Wendi McLendon-Covey, who starred on Reno 911 and made a guest appearance as a lesbian on ABC's Modern Family, has been cast as Beverly Gold, a committed mother and emotional shopaholic with boundary issues and a loud mouth.

- Mixology. From Hangover writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore comes a high-concept single-camera comedy that chronicles the exploits of singles looking for love in a trendy Manhattan bar over the course of one night. The concept sounds like 24, only in a club and with less hours. And no Jack Bauer, unfortunately. Another bad omen is that Hangover director Todd Phillips won't be around to polish up the script.

- Pulling. Based on a British series of the same name, Pulling follows three "dysfunctional" thirtysomething women who live their lives the way they see fit in the face of society's expectations. This will be the second attempt to adapt the series for an American audience, following a failed pilot in 2009 with a different creative team. This time, former Office scribes Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky are on board to write and executive produce.

- Super Fun Night. Written by Pitch Perfect's Rebel Wilson, the single-camera comedy revolves around three nerdy female friends — Kimmie (Wilson), Helen-Alice (Lisa Lapira), and Marika (Lauren Ash) — who embark on a "funcomfortable" quest to have "super fun" every Friday night. The cast also includes Kelen Coleman and Kevin Bishop. John Riggi, who directed 15 episodes of 30 Rock, will helm the pilot. This is the second go-round for Super Fun Night, as it was developed at CBS last season as a multi-camera project with Jenny Slate and Edy Patterson starring alongside Wilson.

- Trophy Wife. Starring Malin Akerman as the titular spouse, Trophy Wife centers on a reformed party girl named Kate who is thrust into the role of wife and mother when she falls in love with an older man (Bradley Whitford) with three manipulative children and two judgmental ex-wives. Boasting a top-notch cast that also includes Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins as the exes from hell, Ryan Lee (Super 8) as one of the kids, and Natalie Morales (White Collar) as Kate's hard-partying close friend, this is the Alphabet network's best bet on the comedy side. A former model with comedy experience in films like The Heartbreak Kid and Couples Retreat, Akerman provides an attractive lead and possesses a likeable quality that should translate well to the small screen.


- Bad Teacher. Based on the feature film that starred Cameron Diaz, Bad Teacher focuses on a crude and foul-mouthed divorcee who becomes a teacher to find her next husband. The film's writers-producers, Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, will serve as producers on the single-camera television version, handing off writing duties to Hilary Winston, who has penned episodes of My Name Is Earl, Community, and Happy Endings. Depending on who is cast in Diaz's role as the titular (God, I love the word "titular") educator, this seems to be a safe bet, although it feels out of place on safe and formulaic CBS.

- Friends With Better Lives. One of the season's few multi-camera pilots is Friends With Better Lives, a comedy about a group of friends in their 30s who each think that the other has a better life. Dana Klein (Kath & Kim, Friends) will write and executive produce.

- Jim Gaffigan Project. Jim Gaffigan returns to TV and CBS in this semi-autobiographical single-camera project, starring the comedian as a husband and father who lives with his wife and five children in a two-bedroom apartment in New York City. Inspired by his real-life experiences, Gaffigan co-wrote the story with Rescue Me creator Peter Tolan, who then penned the script. If the pilot can translate the stories and humor of his standup material, this show could be pretty funny.

- The McCarthys. In this big-family comedy set in Boston and loosely based on the life of Happy Endings staff writer Brian Gallivan, the McCarthys are a sports-obsessed Irish-Catholic clan with a gay son whose greatest sin isn't his sexuality, but his desire to spend less time with his family. Will Gluck (Friends with Benefits) will serve as executive producer.

- Mom. Created and co-written by sitcom overlord Chuck Lorre with two members of his Two and a Half Men team, Mom tells the story of a newly sober single mother trying to pull her life together in Napa Valley. In a rare departure from feature films, in-demand comedy starlet Anna Farris (Scary Movie) will play the titular parental unit. With high-profile names behind the show and in front of the camera, this multi-camera offering will likely find a slot on the schedule.

- Super Clyde. One of two CBS comedy pilots from Greg Garcia, creator of My Name Is Earl and Raising Hope, Super Clyde centers on a meek and unassuming fast-food worker who decides to become a superhero. The description sounds like a less-vulgar TV version of Kick-Ass, or a My Name Is Earl spinoff in which Earl dresses up in a costume to perform his good deeds. From a writer with a quirky sensibility, Clyde is the most unique comedy offering on CBS and could turn out to be something special, depending on the cast.

- Untitled Greg Garcia Project. The other Greg Garcia project is an untitled multi-camera comedy about a recently divorced man whose life is complicated when his parents move in with him. You know what would make it even funnier? If the recently divorced man was also a meek and unassuming fast-food worker who decided to become a superhero. Imagine trying to sneak out and thwart crime while your aged parents are staying in your house. Make it happen, CBS!

- Untitled Rob Greenberg Project. From writer-director Rob Greenberg, this single-camera comedy stars Chris Smith (Paranormal Activity 2) as a young man who moves into a short-term rental complex and learns the ways of the world from its three more experienced residents, played by Jerry O'Connell, Kal Penn, and Tony Shalhoub. This project was originally titled Ex-Men, but that was dropped for obvious legal reasons. The Eye network was said to be high on this one, so it's likely to go to series unless the pilot falls flat.


- Enlisted. From Cougar Town co-creator Kevin Biegel comes this military family comedy based on his real-life relationship with his siblings. Biegel will work with Mike Royce (Men of a Certain Age, 1600 Penn) on the pilot, which will follow three very different brothers as they work together at a small Army base in Florida.

- Friends and Family. Adapted from a British series entitled Gavin & Stacey, the single-camera comedy chronicles the key life moments of a man and woman in a long-distance relationship who finally meet and hit it off, but must navigate their polarizing family and friends. Original series creators James Corden and Ruth Jones serve as executive producers, while David Rosen (I Just Want My Pants Back) wrote the script.

- House Rules. In this single-camera comedy from writers Andrew Gurland (The Last Exorcism) and Justin Hurwitz (The League), a neurotic family with contempt for all things normal tries to fit into a small midwestern town where everyone knows each other and politeness reigns. I can't get a feel for the concept based on that logline, but perhaps it will become clearer once the pilot is cast.

- I Suck At Girls. Based on Justin Halpern's follow-up to his bestselling book Shit My Dad Says, I Suck At Girls tells the coming-of-age story of a boy becoming a man and a man becoming a father in an era before Google was a verb. Halpern and his TV writing partner Patrick Schumacker penned the script with supervision from Scrubs and Cougar Town creator Bill Lawrence.

- To My Assistant. From the writing duo of Sherry Bilsing-Graham and Ellen Kreamer (I Hate My Teenage Daughter, The New Adventures of Old Christine), this single-camera workplace comedy revolves around the assistants at a big New York law firm who band together as a family to deal with the obnoxious, overbearing bosses who test their patience — and their sanity — on a daily basis.

- Two Wrongs. Michelle Morgan, the scribe behind Kristen Wiig's upcoming feature comedy Girl Most Likely, will write the script for a relationship comedy about a couple whose friends and family don't think they're right for each other. Morgan began her career as an actress with a recurring role on NBC's American Dreams before focusing on writing, but she will not be starring in this new single-camera venture. Too bad, because she's reeeeal pretty-like.

- Untitled Alec Sulkin/Wellesley Wild Project. Executive produced by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, this multi-camera comedy penned by MacFarlane's Ted co-writers went straight to series with a six-episode order on the strength of its pilot script. The untitled project explores what happens when two successful guys in their 30s have their lives upended when their nightmare fathers unexpectedly move in with them. FOX brass loved the first script, so hopefully the cast will match the quality of the writing.

- Untitled Mike Schur/Dan Goor Project. Created and written by two of the main forces behind NBC's Parks and Recreation, this single-camera starring vehicle for former Saturday Night Live performer Andy Samberg follows a diverse group of detectives in a police precinct at the very edge of New York City. Terry Crews (The Expendables) will play the no-nonsense captain of the squad, while the directing duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street) have signed on to helm the pilot.


- About A Boy. The writer and developer of NBC's adaptation of the feature film Parenthood, Jason Katims, is bringing his own version of the 2002 movie About A Boy — and the 1998 novel it was based on — to the small screen. The single-camera comedy will chronicle the relationship between a bachelor man-child and the young boy who moves in next door with his kooky single mother. No word yet on who will fill Hugh Grant's shoes.

- Assistance. Based on a play written by Bachelorette writer-director Leslye Headland, Assistance is described as a fast-moving single-camera comedy about an idealistic assistant who finds herself pulled between her "work husband" colleague and her actual fiancé while trying to manage a demanding boss. Will Ferrell and Adam McKay serve as executive producers.

- Donor Party. Bearing the worst title of the season, Donor Party is a single-camera ensemble comedy that revolves around an irresponsible man forced to grow up when he discovers he has children resulting from his days as a sperm donor. A new family unit is formed when he is contacted by a single mother and begins to develop a relationship with her and the son he never knew he had. The project, which shares a strikingly similar premise with new Canadian series Seed, is written and executive produced by actor Alex Schwemmer.

- The Gates. From the husband-and-wife team of Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa ('Til Death), this single-camera adult ensemble comedy takes place at the drop-off area of an elementary school and depicts the 15-minute social minefield that parents and teachers must navigate on a daily basis. Kathleen Rose Perkins of Showtime's Episodes will star as Helen, a type-A personality who just moved to town with her husband Mark (Ken Marino) and eight-year-old daughter for a new job. The rest of the cast includes The Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi, Christina Kirk, Diana Maria Riva, Josh Grisetti, and Justin Chon. I've never been a fan of Yuspa and Goldsmith, but the cast is shaping up very nicely and the setting isn't one that has been fully mined. Ken Marino will get me to watch anything; if I knew he was on Party Down, I would have been all over it. For a goof.

- Girlfriend in a Coma. Executive produced by Law & Order impresario Dick Wolf and written by Nurse Jackie co-creator Liz Brixius, this aptly-titled single-camera comedy focuses on a 34-year-old woman who awakens from a coma and discovers that she has a 17-year-old daughter from a pregnancy she was unaware of when her life was put on hold. It's disconcerting that this is described as a comedy, although it could lean toward dramedy depending on the cast and tone of the show.

- Holding Patterns. One of only three multi-camera pilots on NBC's slate, Holding Patterns is an ensemble comedy from Justin Spitzer (The Office) concerning a group of friends whose lives completely change after they survive a plane crash.

- Joe, Joe & Jane. Inspired by the relationship between writers Joe Port and Joe Wiseman (New Girl) and Wiseman's wife, this semi-autobiographical comedy had a seven-figure penalty attached to its pilot production commitment, making it one of the most lucrative comedy deals this season. Tagged with the already annoying description, "It's not about a couple — it's about a trouple," the multi-camera project centers on a conflict-avoidant children's book author who finds himself caught in an ongoing tug-of-war between two needy, flawed people in his life: his wife (Sally Pressman) and his best friend, who also happens to be his co-author.

- Untitled DJ Nash Project. Produced by Jason Bateman's Aggregate Films, this single-camera comedy is yet another semi-autobiographical project. Loosely based on the life of Up All Night executive producer DJ Nash, the show revolves around a son who is in awe of his blind father and bemused by his mother's newfound adolescence following their divorce. Somehow, his family pulls closer together after the split. Although the show was originally set in the 1980s, it has been updated to the present day, likely because of the glut of '80s-themed projects in development.

- Untitled Greg Daniels Project. Not to be confused with the other untitled Greg Daniels project, this single-camera comedy will reunite the developer/executive producer of The Office with Craig Robinson, who plays affable warehouse manager Darryl on the long-running NBC series, and writer Owen Ellickson, an Office supervising producer. Robinson will star as a talented, rough-around-the-edges musician adjusting to his new life as a music teacher in a big-city middle school, where he encounters teacher politics and the temptations of single mothers.

- Untitled Greg Daniels/Robert Padnick Project. Described as a look at the trials and tribulations of dating in your 20s as explored through a group of friends, the pilot will focus on bright eyed and vulnerable Matthew being pushed by his three best friends to get back into the dating scene. Parks and Recreation co-creator Greg Daniels serves as executive producer along with writer Robert Padnick, who joined The Office during its sixth season and was nominated for a Writer's Guild of America award for his very first episode, February 2011's "PDA," which was directed by Daniels.

- Untitled Jessica Simpson Project. The Peacock network has ordered a pilot presentation for a single-camera comedy starring Jessica Simpson and inspired by events in her life. Nick Bakay, who has credits such as Zookeeper and Paul Blart: Mall Cop to his name, is responsible for writing the script. When the deal was announced, executive producer Ben Silverman actually uttered the following quote referencing the legendary Lucille Ball: "Jessica Simpson is truly a modern-day Lucy with incredible comedic chops." Surprisingly, his pants refused to burst into flames at that very moment, as he added, "From running a fashion empire to wrangling her public image as a new mom, we see Jessica's character approach a variety of 'everyday' circumstances that will get audiences laughing out loud." What everyday person can't identify with running a fashion empire while wrangling a public image? Hopefully NBC will realize that she is a dreadful actress with zero comedic timing and send her on her way.

- Untitled Michael J. Fox Project. Back at the network that made him a household name on Family Ties, Michael J. Fox returns to regular series television in a semi-autobiographical comedy about a married father of three living in New York City and dealing with family, career, and other challenges, including Parkinson's disease. Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad) will play his wife, while Juliette Goglia, Conor Romero, and Jack Goor play his three kids. The cast for this highly-anticipated show also features Katie Finneran as his sister and Wendell Pierce as his close friend and old boss. Executive producer Will Gluck (Easy A) will direct from a script penned by Cougar Town scribe Sam Laybourne. In the most competitive situation of the season, NBC snagged the single-camera project by placing a 22-episode series order without even seeing a pilot or a table-read.

- Untitled Sean Hayes Project. Also returning to a regular TV role, Emmy Award winner Sean Hayes of Will & Grace will star in a multi-camera comedy as a guy named Sean who must learn how to become a parent when his 14-year-old daughter moves in. When he's not figuring out how to be a dad, Sean has to deal with a temperamental new boss at work. NBC has been eager to build a starring vehicle for Hayes and decided on this project, written by Better Off Ted creator Victor Fresco, so it's likely to be picked up.

- Welcome To The Family. A culture clash ensues between a Caucasian family and a Latino family, who are forced together when their children experience an unplanned pregnancy shortly after falling in love. Rules of Engagement executive producer Mike Sikowitz is the man behind this multicultural single-camera comedy, formerly titled Chuey & Me. Boy, I wonder if there's any chance this show will portray a bunch of racial stereotypes for cheap laughs...


- Chosen. The next contestant in FX's search for a companion to Archer, Chosen is an animated comedy produced by Danny McBride's Rough Pictures and written by rookie scribe Grant Dekernion, a former writer's assistant on McBride's HBO series Eastbound & Down. Dekernion will also voice the lead character, a rapper who emerges from prison with a new message and new skills to use in his quest for redemption and domination.

- Untitled Andrew Gurland Project. With the absence of Louie in the comedy ranks until next year, FX has given the greenlight to feature writer Andrew Gurland (The Last Exorcism, The Virginity Hit) for an edgy comedy about a married man who is given permission by his wife to get a mistress in order to save their marriage. In addition to penning the script, Gurland will direct the pilot. If he really wants to replace Louie, maybe he should star in the show too.