Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage.
Anger Management scribe Bob Kushell has crossed the Atlantic to the UK for a new BBC Three sitcom set around the world of assisted suicide. Known for taking more risks than conservative stablemates BBC One and Two, the digital channel aimed at the 16-34 year-old demo has ordered a six-episode season of the 30-minute show Way To Go, about “three ordinary guys who find themselves forced by an extraordinary set of circumstances into setting up an assisted-suicide business”. Veteran comedy writer Kushell, whose writing credits Stateside include The Simpsons and Third Rock from the Sun, says he’s thrilled to follow in the footsteps of British comic giants like Monty Python, Black Adder and Fawlty Towers. “There has been no bigger thrill in my life than to have a show on the BBC.” The Inbetweeners‘ Blake Harrison will star alongside Ben Heathcote and Marc Wootton. Jon Plowman, the exec producer behind Absolutely Fabulous and Twenty Twelve, thinks the show deals with a difficult issue respectfully. “Working with a really great U.S. creator and a transatlantic writing team also brings us just a whiff of the way in which their shows find a different tone for mixing comedy, drama and death.”
EXCLUSIVE: Primetime musical series are red-hot courtesy of Fox’s Glee, and ABC, whose sibling Disney Channel started the genre’s resurgence with High School Musical and Hannah Montana, is developing a couple of music-themed series for next fall. Leading the pack is a drama with musical elements from writer Bob Kushell (Samantha Who?) starring Tony winner Idina Menzel. Another one is a musical comedy from Robert Horn, who penned two Disney Channel movie musicals this year: the High School Musical-spinoff Sharpay Fabulous, starring Ashley Tisdale, and The Suite Life: The Movie.
Hot off her recurring role on Glee last season, Idina Menzel is headlining her own musical hourlong project, a mother-daughter relationship drama in the vein of Gilmore Girls. It will star the Broadway actress as the single mother of a teenager who, to make ends meet, waits tables and performs at weddings and bar mitzvahs, odd jobs that Menzel herself worked early on while pursuing a Broadway career. Kushell, who had been looking to do a musical series for the past 10 years, is writing the script for ABC Studios and will executive produce with David Knoller (Big Love). Menzel and her manager Heather Reynolds will serve as producers. Menzel, who originated the roles of Maureen in Rent and Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway, earned Tony nominations for both and won for Wicked. She will make her New York Philharmonic debut on Feb. 5 and may also return to … Read More »
NBC, which has 8 comedies on tap for this season – all single-camera – is mulling a return to the multi-camera genre. In one of the last comedy buys this season, the network went for a multi-camera project from sitcom veteran Peter Murrieta. It is one of several multi-camera comedies NBC has put in development this season, including Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, a sitcom based on Chelsea Handler’s books, and a project by veteran Bob Kushell. The Murrieta project, produced by UMS and 3 Arts, involves a hipster, who is a first-generation Mexican American, being pulled into his family’s business and will focus on the dichotomy of his traditional past and his “hip and cool” new life. Murrieta hatched the idea for the project with Eddie Gorodetsky, co-executive producer on the two strongest multi-camera comedies on the air, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. Murrieta is writing, with one of multi-camera sitcom’s genre’s best-known directors, Jamie Widdoes, on board to direct the potential pilot. Widdoes also directed the pilot for Murrieta’s semi-autobiographical sitcom for the WB Greetings from Tucson. Murrieta most recently served as executive producer/showrunner on Wizards of Waverly Place for the Disney Channel series’ first 3 seasons. With him at the helm, the show landed the first best series Emmy Award for Disney Channel last year in the children’s program category. (Murrieta, repped by CAA and … Read More »