EXCLUSIVE: Following her memorable run on Dancing With the Stars last spring, Kirstie Alley is returning to ABC as the star of a new comedy project. I’ve learned that ABC is finalizing the deals for a pilot order to The Manzanis, a multi-camera family comedy written by sitcom veterans Marco Pennette and Dave Flebotte, with Alley attached to star. ABC Studios and studio-based Brillstein Entertainment are producing. The sitcom is described as a new take on Roseanne, and stars Alley as a very opinionated wife/mother who, along with her family, the Manzanis, moves to repressed country-club town. Pennette and Flebotte are executive producing with Brillstein’s new TV president JoAnn Alfano. Also expected to executive produce are Aaron Kaplan (Good Christian Belles) and Alley’s manager Jason Weinberg.
CAA has added several experienced TV writer-producers to its roster. The recent signings include:
Dexter executive producer/showrunner Scott Buck, previously co-executive producer on HBO’s Rome and Six Feet Under. He was with WME.
Emmy-winning former Frasier executive producer/co-showrunner Joe Keenan, most recently executive producer/consulting producer on ABC’s Desperate Housewives for the past four years. He was with UTA.
Cynthia Cidre, writer/executive producer of TNT’s Dallas reboot, which is shooting a pilot. She previously created and executive produced the CBS series Cane. Cidre was with UTA. She was managed by Ann Blanchard who recently joined CAA.
Desperate Housewives co-executive producer Dave Flebotte, previously executive producer on NBC’s Will & Grace. He was with UTA.
Former New York-based playwright Tim Lea, most recently co-executive producer on Fox’s Lie to Me. He was with ICM.
On the producer-director side, CAA’s new clients are:
Documentary filmmaker and TV producer RJ Cutler, currently executive producer on the HBO pilot Spring/Fall starring Tea Leoni. He was with WME and also managed by Blanchard.
Emmy-nominated director Ian Toynton (24), currently executive producer on Fox’s Bones. He was with Paradigm.
EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-nominated writer Kenneth Lonergan has come on board to pen Taxi-22, HBO’s adaptation of the hit French Canadian single-camera comedy executive produced by James Gandolfini and developed as a potential starring vehicle for the Sopranos star through his Attaboy Films production company. Lonergan replaces Dave Flebotte who was originally tapped to write the adaptation. Taxi-22, which centers on a politically incorrect cab driver in New York City struggling to keep his life together, marks the TV debut of Lonergan, a playwright and feature writer-director who earned Oscar nominations for writing his first movie, You Can Count on Me, and co-writing Gangs of New York. Gandolfini and Lonergan are executive producing with Nancy Sanders, Mark Armstrong, Clark Peterson, Dennis Erdman and the creators of the original show Patrick Huard and Francois Flamand. Huard, a top Canadian comedian, also stars on the Canadian series. Erdman and Peterson licensed the format rights from Huard and Flamand and brought the project to HBO and Gandolfini. Lonergan’s comedy writing experience include co-writing Analyze This and writing The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle.