EXCLUSIVE: You know when a premise of a show is so unusual, it looks completely made up? Well, this is not one of those cases. TV Land has put in development a half-hour sitcom from Frasier and Desperate Housewives alum Joe Keenan and director Scott Ellis about two adult identical twin brothers, one gay and one straight, who return home and help their mother raise their deceased sister’s child. The project is based on personal experience, times two. Both Keenan and Ellis are gay and have identical twin brothers who are straight. It has been “fascinating” tackling the same premise from the points of view of two very different experiences, said Keenan, whose brother is conservative evangelist and has not spoken to him since Keenan got married four years ago. Meanwhile, Ellis is very close with his brother, who is supportive of him.
As for the brothers on the show, who were brought up by their mother to be very competitive, “their lives implode within weeks of each other,” Keenan said. The straight one, who makes a good living as a minor-league pitcher, is caught cheating on his wife and, while trying to flee his lover’s apartment, hurts his arm, breaking his marriage and career at the same time. Meanwhile, his brother is dumped by his wealthy, older gay partner after a long relationship, left to fend for himself for the first time in years. Keenan and Ellis conceived the idea in the fall, but Ellis was busy developing a 1970s mother/daughter hourlong project already set up at ABC, and by the time the two were ready with the pitch, they missed the current broadcast window. Keenan and Ellis were then approached by TV Land, which was interested in fast-tracking the comedy for a possible June pilot shoot. Instead of waiting another year to get a shot at the broadcast networks, the two jumped in with TV Land. Read More »
Scott Ellis is directing three multicamera pilots this season. The CAA-repped Ellis, who already helmed ABC’s off-cycle pilot The Manzanis, has signed on to direct two NBC pilots: the untitled Kari Lizer female buddy comedy and the untitled Jimmy Fallon male buddy comedy.
Veteran multicamera director Gail Mancuso has signed on to direct Roseanne Barr’s NBC pilot Downwardly Mobile, marking a reunion between Roseanne star Barr and Mancuso, who spent seven years on the ABC comedy and got her start as a director there. Also part of the Roseanne reunion is Eric Gilliland, who co-wrote Downwardly Mobile and is executive producing, and Downwardly Mobile’s casting director Risa Bramon Garcia, who with Billly Hopkins cast the pilot for Roseanne. Mancuso is with ICM.
Jeffrey Nachmanoff (Traitor) is set to direct NBC’s firefigher drama pilot Chicago Fire, written by Derek Haas and Michael Brandt and produced by Dick Wolf’s company. The CAA-repped Nachmanoff recently directed the Lifetime pilot Meet Jane.
Feature writer/director Neil Burger (Limitless) will direct Josh Friedman’s spy drama pilot The Asset for Fox in his TV directing debut.
Paul McGuigan is closed to direct ABC’s soap dramedy pilot Devious Maids, a Marc Cherry-written adaptation of a Mexican format. This is the second consecutive drama pilot at ABC/ABC Studios for McGuigan, who last season helmed the pilot for Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal.
The Roundabout Theatre has set Emmy-winning The Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons, Jessica Hecht and Charles Kimbrough for a Scott Ellis-directed revival of Mary Chase’s 1944 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Harvey. Preview performances begin May 18 at Studio 54, and the play opens June 14 for a limited run that ends August 5. Parsons is playing Elwood P. Dowd, a guy who befriends a six-and-a-half-foot-tall rabbit. A Jonathan Tropper-scripted feature based on the original stage play temporarily hooked Steven Spielberg in 2009, but the filmmaker dropped out of the Fox-DreamWorks co-production because of difficulty finding the right guy to play Dowd, whom James Stewart portrayed in the original screen adaptation. Parsons seems like an ideal choice to bring Dowd to life on the stage, and maybe the stage run will reinvigorate the film project, though Parsons is an untested commodity in that realm.