Don’t Trust The B—- creator Nahnatchka Khan is back on pilot duty at ABC as the network has given a pilot order to her single-camera comedy project Fresh Off The Boat. This is Khan’s second pilot pickup this season; she also has comedy Fatrick on Fox, which is on a series track. Fresh Off The Boat, which had a put pilot commitment, is written/executive produced by Khan, with Jake Kasdan also exec producing the project for 20th Century Fox TV, where both Khan and Kasdan are based. Based on Eddie Huang’s memoir, it is set in the 1990s and revolves around a Chinese family that moves to suburban Orlando. (Huang’s real-life family is Taiwanese.) It centers on hip-hop-loving Eddie, raised by an immigrant father who is obsessed with all things American and an immigrant mother who is often bewildered by white culture. With his father owning and operating an All-American Steakhouse chain, this loving family of FOB (“fresh off the boat”) Taiwanese Americans try to live the American dream while still maintaining their cultural identity and sense of family. This is a setup Khan can relate to as she too is a first-generation American. Kasdan’s producing partner Melvin Mar also exec produces the project, while restaurateur/TV personality Huang serves as producer.
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.
Teri Polo and Mather Zickel have landed co-starring roles on the ABC comedy pilot Man Up!. The project, from 100 Questions creator Chris Moynihan, ABC Studios and Tagline, is a look at what it takes to survive as a modern man, as told through the eyes of three best friends and the women in their lives. Moynihan and Zickel (I Love You, Man) will play two of the friends, while Polo will play the wife of the third friend, a playful super-mom who is addicted to Facebook. Additionally, Polo also booked the lead in the Hallmark comedic movie A Taste of Romance. The Little Fockers co-star recurs on Law & Order: Los Angeles, just wrapped the feature Beyond and is in pre-production on Material Lies.
Saturday Night Live alum Darrell Hammond is in negotiations to join the TBS pilot Hound Dogs, written and directed by Ron Shelton. Set in the world of minor league baseball, the project, which has moved from Sony TV to Warner Horizon, centers on minor league team the Nashville Hound Dogs and its endlessly upbeat general manager (Tom Verica), a gambling addict trying to outrun his past, as they try to handle life’s ups and downs, both in and out of the locker room. Hammond, who spent 14 years on SNL, more than any other …
The ABC Studios/Tagline-produced Man Up stems from writer-actor Moynihan’s two-script deal with the studio. In addition to writing and executive producing, Moynihan is set to co-star in the project, a look at what it takes to survive as a modern man, as told through the eyes of three best friends and the women in their lives. Also executive producing are Tagline’s Ron West and Kelly Kulchak. Moynihan is with Rothman Brecher and Thruline. (This is not to be confused with Jack Burditt’s comedy script Man Up, also at ABC, which has Tim Allen circling.)
The Warner Bros. TV-produced Smothered is based on Reich and Cohen’s real-life experiences and centers on a young couple who find themselves smothered by their two very different sets of parents whose only thing in common is that their children are married to each other. Reich and Cohen are with WME.