Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Minnie Driver is set to star opposite Andrea Anders in Kari Lizer’s NBC comedy pilot Lady Friends. The Warner Bros. TV-produced project is about two life-long female friends who are living very different lives but couldn’t live without each other. Nicole (Anders) has everything going for her. Her best friend, Jen (Driver), has parents who have no faith in her, terrible instincts that led her to a 17-day marriage to a guy who dumped her, and she gained 15 pounds on the cabbage soup diet. And yet, somehow, she is Nicole’s rock.

Lady Friends landed Driver in a nail-biter, after a month-long pursuit. The producers cast the other lead, Anders, at the beginning of February when they also identified Driver as the choice for Jen. The problem was that Driver was under a talent deal at ABC, which would not release her. Executives and agents tried persuasion, which didn’t work. Then the network, NBC, used gamesmanship in the form of some good old horse trading. ABC wanted Kal Penn, who had a talent deal at NBC, to star in its comedy pilot Prairie Dogs. NBC offered to release Penn from his deal if ABC would let Driver go so she could do Lady Friends. That didn’t work either. (Penn did end up doing Prairie Dogs.) In the end, patience and perseverance paid off. ABC finally released Driver and she quickly closed a deal with Warner Bros. for Lady Friends. The Oscar-nominated former Riches star is with CAA and Untitled.

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