EXCLUSIVE: TV Land’s freshman comedy Kirstie just finished its freshman run on Wednesday. If it gets a second season, it will be without creator/executive producer/showrunner Marco Pennette, who is leaving. The departure is not related to Kirstie or its star, Kirstie Alley, with whom Pennette is a long-time friend. I hear there is a personal issue that makes it difficult for Pennette to perform showrunner duties on a series, which are very physically demanding. He still loves working in comedy and has joined Chuck Lorre’s freshman CBS comedy Mom for a part-time gig as a consulting producer, that is better suited for him at the moment. TV Land is expected to search for a new showrunner as part of its decision-making process on Season 2. Kirstie has not been a breakout ratings or critical hit but it features a dream cast of sitcom stars Alley, Rhea Perlman and Michael Richards. The show revolves around Madison “Maddie” Banks (Alley), a Broadway star who finds her life turned upside down when Arlo (Eric Petersen), her long-lost son, turns up looking to connect after his adopted mother dies. Perlman plays Maddie’s assistant and best friend; Richards plays Maddie’s outlandish driver.
TV Land has given a cast-contingent presentation order to Giant Baby, a multi-camera comedy written by Marco Pennette starring Cheers alumna Kirstie Alley. The project centers on Madison “Maddie” Banks (Alley), a Broadway star who finds her life turned upside down when Owen, the son she gave up for adoption 26 years ago, turns up looking to connect after his adopted mother dies. “We’ve had our eye on Kirstie Alley for a long time, and we finally got her!” said TV Land president Larry W. Jones.
TV Land brass took a look at Pennette’s ABC pilot The Manzanis after the network passed on it in May. The multi-camera comedy also starred Alley, as well as her former Cheers co-star Rhea Perlman. Ultimately, TV Land opted to develop a new project with Pennette and Alley. It resulted in Giant Baby, which the two executive produce with Alley’s manager Jason Weinberg.
EXCLUSIVE: There is a change at the helm of NBC‘s upcoming comedy series Animal Practice (formerly Animal Kingdom). Gail Lerner, who joined the show after the pilot as executive producer/showrunner, is departing, with Marco Pennette coming in as new showrunner. The gig is tied to a development deal for Pennette at Universal TV. To accommodate the change and give Pennette time to get up to speed, I hear that the series’ planned hiatus has been pushed up by a week. Animal Practice, which just wrapped Episode 3, was supposed to start Episode 4 right away and take a hiatus next week. It will take the week-long break now instead.
Created by feature writers Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka, Animal Practice is a single-camera office comedy centered on a “House”-like veterinarian (Justin Kirk) who loves animals but usually hates their owners (especially the new woman who runs the clinic). On the Universal TV/American Work-produced series, Pennette will serve as an executive producer alongside Gatewood, Alex Tanaka, Ravi Nandan, Scot Armstrong and the pilot’s directors Anthony and Joe Russo. UTA-repped Pennette is a sought-after showrunner who is credited with helping get ABC’s Ugly Betty off the ground and was a key writer-producer on Desperate Housewives. This past season, he created the ABC comedy pilot The Manzanis starring Kirstie Alley and has another comedy with the Cheers alumna in consideration at …
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.
EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken and Oscar-nominated lyricist David Zippel have teamed with veteran comedy writer Marco Pennette for a musical comedy set up at ABC. The network is making a big effort to launch a musical series next season with 3 such projects in development.
The untitled Menken/Zippel/Pennette project is probably the most ambitious of the 3 as it would feature 2-3 original songs in every episode. Loosely based on Menken’s daughter, it is described as St. Elmo’s Fire meets Rent and centers on a young female musician living with other musicians as they try to make their way into the world. Menken, Zippel and Pennette co-created the project, which would feature the characters break into songs as well as set pieces. The trio will executive produce the show, which was packaged by UTA. Pennette is writing the script, with ABC Studios producing. At ABC, the Menken/Zippel/Pennette comedy is joining two other music-themed projects in development: a drama with musical elements from writer Bob Kushell starring Tony winner Idina Menzel, and a musical comedy from Sharpay Fabulous writer Robert Horn.
Menken’s extensive work on Disney family movies has netted him 18 Oscar nominations and 8 wins, two each for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladin and Pocahontas. He is back in awards contention this year with Disney’s …