TV critics attending Summer TV Press Tour 2014 wanted to talk to the cast and crew of Fox’s new Mulaney about its similarity to NBC’s long-running comedy series Seinfeld. In the new multi-cam comedy, from NBCU and originally developed for NBC (the network passed on the pilot), former Saturday Night Live writer John Mulaney plays a fictionalized version of himself — a standup comic trying to take his career to the next level. Martin Short co-stars as a comedy legend and now game-show host, for whom Mulaney works; Elliott Gould plays his wacky next door neighbor. Nasim Pedrad, Seaton Smith and Zack Pearlman round out the cast. Mulaney is exec produced by Lorne Michaels, David Miner, Dave Becky, Jon Pollack, Andrew Singer and Andy Ackerman.
Exec producer/director Ackerman, perhaps best known for his work on Seinfeld after directing nearly 90 episodes, was asked to discuss the new series’ many similarities to that long-running NBC comedy. After turning to Mulaney and murmuring, “You’re no Jerry Seinfeld,” he turned to TV critics and said, “This is a cast I’m really excited about… I had the privilege to work with that great cast, and I see so many similarities in terms of the chemistry. And we have an opportunity to take John’s voice, and what he’s doing I’m really excited about…and if I have any small percent of [Seinfeld’s] success I’d be thrilled.”
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Here is the second-annual honor roll of the best and brightest at the broadcast upfront. First off, to all who got their pilots picked up to series — congratulations. You’re already winners. This is a list of those who took their upfront success to an extra level:
Whitney Cummings: The undisputed queen of Upfront 2011. She is behind two new comedy series that are among the highest-profile new half-hour entries next fall. She created, stars in and executive produces her eponymous comedy for NBC, which was assigned the network’s best comedy slot, following The Office. She also co-wrote on spec with Michael Patrick King the CBS comedy 2 Broke Girls, which broke records as CBS’ best-testing pilot (comedy or drama) ever. Both were the first comedy pilots to get a series order at their networks. Cummings, who also has a talk show in contention at E!, will serve as an executive producer on 2 Broke Girls but will be full-time on Whitney, which was in first position. I hope that doesn’t impact 2 Broke Girls, which King is expected to run/co-run, because the pilot indeed looks great. Honorable mention in the category of creators with multiple projects for Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen. One of their two ABC pilots, Work It, was picked up to series, while the other, Smothered, is very much in contention for midseason.
What a comeback for J.J. Abrams! After his high-profile NBC drama Undercovers went bust last fall, some questioned whether the networks will continue to bet on him. But bet they did this upfront, with both pilots he produced, CBS’ Person of Interest and Fox’s Alcatraz, going to series. Person of Interest instantly became one of the most anticipated new fall series when CBS made it its new Thursday 9 PM anchor. The network also said it was its best-testing drama pilot ever. And over at Fox, Alcatraz prevailed over several high-profile pilots to land one of only two drama series spots. Then, as icing on the cake, Abrams’ modestly rated but well-liked Fox sci-fi series Fringe got a renewal for next season, bringing the producer’s series for next season to three. Read More »
Easy A helmer Will Gluck will make his TV directing debut with the Fox half-hour pilot Iceland, a single-camera romantic comedy from Sony TV about a group of friends moving forward after the loss of a loved one. UTA-repped Gluck, who started off as a TV comedy writer-producer, segued into feature directing with Fired Up!, Easy A and the upcoming romantic comedy Friends with Benefits, which he also co-wrote.
Mimi Leder is set to direct the CW pilot Heavenly, from writer-executive producer Richard Hatem and CBS TV Studios. Leder will also executive produce the pilot, about a dedicated young female attorney and a former angel-turned-human who tackle cases together at the attorney’s legal aid clinic. Emmy winner Leder, repped by CAA and Industry, has directed 6 pilots that have gone to series.
The World Is Not Enough helmer Michael Apted will direct Marc Cherry’s ABC drama pilot Hallelujah. It is set in the town of Hallelujah, Tenn., which is being torn apart by the forces of good and evil and whose fortunes change when a stranger comes to town, bringing justice, peace and possibly restoring faith. Law & Order alum Jesse L. Martin recently became the first actor cast in the pilot. Apted most recently directed The … Read More »
The Emmy-winning team of Anthony and Joe Russo have come on board to direct Fox’s comedy pilot The Council of Dads, from writer-executive producer Peter Tolan and Sony Pictures TV. Last year, the Sony TV-based directors who won an Emmy for directing the pilot of Arrested Development, helmed 2 pilots, ABC’s Happy Endings and Fox’s Running Wilde, both of which got picked up to series. The Russos also directed the pilot for the NBC comedy series Community.
Feature director David Slade (Eclipse) is in negotiations to direct REM, Kyle Killen’s drama pilot for NBC and 20th described as an Inception-style thriller about a cop living in two different realities. This is the second consecutive pilot for Killen, who last year had Lone Star. Both attracted feature directors, Marc Webb and Slade, respectively, with both helmers making their pilot debuts.
Chris Koch, who directed the pilot for Fox’s midseaosn series Traffic Light, is on board to direct another single-camera comedy pilot, ABC’s Bad Mom, created by and co-starring British writer-actress-comedienne Sharon Horgan and produced by ABC Studios and Kapital Entertainment.
Veteran multicamera helmer Andy Ackerman has signed on to direct the ABC family comedy pilot Smothered, from Friends alums Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen. He is already attached to direct another half-hour pilot this season, I Hate My Teenage Daughter for Fox, and is eying a third, the Marisa Coughlan-penned Lost & … Read More »
At Fox’s TCA session yesterday, entertainment president Kevin Reilly noted that the network is not giving up on multicamera comedy, and its first comedy pilot order this season will go to a traditional sitcom. That is now a reality – Fox has just closed a deal to greenlight I Hate My Teenage Daughter, from Warner Bros. TV and writers/executive producers Sherry Bilsing-Graham and Ellen Kreamer. It centers on two women who now have daughters just like the girls who picked on them in high school. Veteran sitcom helmer Andy Ackerman is attached to direct. On the drama side, Fox has already ordered two pilots, Locke & Key and Alcatraz.