Pilot season: First look at ABC's 2010 comedy pilots
ABC found better fortunes in the comedy genre this season with "Modern Family," "Cougar Town," and "The Middle," but that's not stopping the network from developing 11 comedy pilots for contention for the new season. Six of them are single-camera, like the aforementioned; four are multi-camera and one is a hybrid a la CBS' "How I Met Your Mother."
What's hot? Matthew Perry (pictured left) wrote and is starring in "Mr. Sunshine," about a self-centered manager of a second-rate sports arena who begins to reevaluate his life on his 40th birthday. Alex Barnow and Mark Firek, both of "Rules of Engagement" and "Til Death," co-wrote the single-camera show with Perry. Also cast are Allison Janney ("The West Wing"), Andrea Anders ("Better Off Ted") and Nate Torrence ("Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip"). I was never much of a "Friends" fan, but Chandler was my favorite. That and the fact that Janney is untouchable and Anders is hilarious on "Better Off Ted" (Oops, what does this say about that?) makes me wanna take a look.
A few other notables:
"Freshmen," a multi-camera ensemble about three first-year members of Congress who live together in a Washington, D.C., row house, has interesting names behind it. Greg Malins, of "How I Met Your Mother," wrote it; his producing partner is Arianna Huffington (yes, that Arianna Huffington); and Pam Fryman, director and executive producer of "How I Met Your Mother," is directing it. Icing on the cake: Sarah Chalke ("Scrubs") is a lead.
"Mad TV" writer and actress Stephnie Weir has penned a single-camera comedy, "Wright vs. Wrong" in which a sexy and driven conservative pundit tries to maintain her public persona despite her own vulnerabilities. No one has been cast, but Mitch Hurwitz ("Arrested Development") and Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum are producing it. So let's mark that one as a maybe.
Shana Goldberg-Meehan of "Friends" has written an untitled multi-camera pilot about two sisters at different stages in their romantic relationships. One is in unmarried but in a long-term relationship; the other gets pregnant and quickly marries a new beau. The leads are lovely ladies, Joanna Garcia ("Privileged") and Jennifer Finnigan ("Close to Home"). Would be so nice for a sitcom starring two women to work.
"The Simpsons" scribe Dana Gould has written an untitled multi-camera comedy he will star in. He plays a high school guidance counselor and father of two who is caught between his conservative upbringing and his progressive wife's ideals. One plus: Brian Dennehy plays his father.
Two pilots stand out because they are based on books and have attracted some noteworthy comic actors.
"Awkward Situations For Men" by Danny Wallace follows a famous British on-air personality as he moves to America and finds his everyday behavior clashes with American values. Wallace plays the lead. Also cast: Tony Hale ("Chuck"), Matt Letscher ("Entourage") and Laura Prepon ("That '70s Show" and "October Road"), pictured at left. It is written and produced by Jeff Filgo and Jackie Filgo, of "Hank" and "The New Adventures of Old Christine," and will be a show with both multi-camera and single-camera elements.
Based on the novel by Firoozeh Dumas, "Funny in Farsi" follows an Iranian immigrant growing up in Newport Beach in the 1970s. It was written by Nastaran Dibai and Jeffrey Hodes of "Rita Rocks," will be directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and will be shot single-camera. The cast includes Maz Jobrani ("Better Off Ted"), Hrach Titizian ("24"), Marjan Neshat, Kendra Jain, David Gore, and the voice talent of Sarah Shahi ("Life").
What's not so hot, at least, not yet?
Damon Wayans Jr. will star in an untitled single-camera comedy by new writer David Caspe, about a couple that breaks up at the altar and they and their friends have to figure out how to maintain their relationships. No other casting yet.
"How To Be A Better American," a single-camera comedy by Steven Cragg and Brian Bradley ("Scrubs") centers around a father who embarks on a journey to become a better person and drags his family along. No casting yet.
"It Takes A Village" centers on a highly intelligent teenage boy whose divorced parents live across the street from each other. He lives back and forth between the two houses, and his dad has since come out as gay, and his mom has a boyfriend. No one has been cast. It was written by Casey Johnson and David Windsor, both of "Greek."
"Who Gets The Parents?" is a multi-camera comedy by Joe Port and Joe Wiseman, both of "The IT Crowd." It features three adult siblings as they deal with the unexpected fallout of their parents' later-in-life divorce. No casting yet.
Note: A multi-camera comedy based on the book "Women are Crazy, Men are Stupid" has been tabled.
--Maria Elena Fernandez (follow me on Twitter @writerchica)
Photos: Matthew Perry. Credit: Reuters; Laura Prepon: USA Network
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