EXCLUSIVE: Within the past year, Melissa McCarthy has gotten a hit show in CBS’ Mike & Molly and a hit movie in Bridesmaids; landed her first-ever starring role (on Mike & Molly); sold her first feature script; and last night she won her first award, a best actress in a comedy series Emmy for Mike & Molly. Now she’s adding another first to her quickly expanding resume: McCarthy has sold her first network pilot script. The actress-writer and her actor-writer husband Ben Falcone, both Groundlings alumni, have a multi-camera comedy project in the works at CBS. Warner Bros TV, the studio behind Mike & Molly, is producing. The untitled multi-camera comedy, which McCarthy and Falcone will co-write and co-executive produce, is “about a woman in her mid-40s who has a spectacular midlife crisis,” McCarthy told me at the HBO post-Emmy bash last night. “The show is about what a midlife crisis means for a woman, which is very different from the way it affects men.”
Last night, McCarthy pulled a major upset by landing the comedy actress Emmy over heavy favorites Laura Linney, Edie Falco and Amy Poehler. But she almost didn’t get the role on Mike & Molly that earned her the trophy. During the 2010 pilot season, McCarthy was an early choice of Mike & Molly creator Chuck Lorre, with WBTV quickly getting behind her. She tested for the role and was put on hold, but weeks went by as the network wasn’t sold on her and continued to see other actresses for the role. McCarthy said she understood the hesitation. “I was always supporting, always playing the girlfriend; I’d never had a lead role,” the Gilmore Girls and Samantha Who? alumna said. She may have not gotten the part had it not been for Lorre, who kept pushing for her to be cast. When accepting her Emmy last night, McCarthy acknowledged Lorre, “who fought for me.” As for landing the Emmy, did the enthusiastic response to her scene-stealing role in the summer smash Bridesmaids help her chances? “I think everything feeds something else,” McCarthy said.
On the feature side, McCarthy recently sold her first feature script — a collaboration with her Bridesmaids co-star and writing partner Annie Mumolo — to Paramount, with Lorne Michaels producing. It is being written as a starring vehicle for the Mike & Molly actress. This is not the only movie starring vehicle McCarthy has in the works; she is also attached to Jason Bateman’s ID Theft at Universal. McCarthy, repped by CAA (which also recently signed Falcone) and the Schiff Co, recently reunited with Judd Apatow with a role in his upcoming movie This is Forty. And on Oct. 1, she will be doing yet another first, making her debut as host of Saturday Night Live.
McCarthy’s career trajectory resembles that of fellow comedy actor-writer Steve Carell. Both come from an improv background and had been mostly supporting players when they were tapped to lead TV series, Mike & Molly and The Office, respectively. And both exploded the summer after their series’ first seasons with an Apatow raunchy comedy, Bridesmaids and The 40-Year-Old Virgin. However, their career paths diverged last night when McCarthy landed a lead actress award while Carell, the sentimental favorite on the male side, ended his run on The Office without an Emmy.
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