ABC 2010 upfronts: Comedy pilots

by Paul William Tenny

ABC network logoThis is the comedy pilots post of a series on ABC's 2010 upfront presentation. These pilots were all ordred by ABC for consideration for the 2010 fall season (and summer replacement of canceled shows), and anything they announce at the upfronts next week will come from this pile.

  • Awkward Situations for Men

    From: Danny Wallace, Jackie Filgo, and Jeff Filgo as creators, David Heyman and Tiffany Daniel producing, with Andy Ackerman directing the pilot. Wallace wrote and produced for The Dave Gorman Collection and Important Astrology Experiment in the early 2000s, then popped up on How to Start Your Own Country in 2005. The two Filgos most produced for That 70's Show, and produced for The New Adventures of Old Christine. Ackermen has directed for over 40 shows and produced for Cheers, Seinfeld, Two and a Half Men, Rules of Engagement, and The New Adventures of Old Christine. He directed for some of those shows, as well as Wings, Fraiser, Becker, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

    Heyman has worked as a producer on all of the Harry Potter films, I Am Legend, and produced for short-lived Threshold. Tiffany Daniel seemingly has done almost nothing.

    Synopsis: Danny is a columnist who moves from England to San Francisco for his American wife Meg's new job. Despite Danny's best efforts to grasp the differences between the two cultures, he somehow always manages to cause a scene...

    Notes: Ordered to pilot. Wallace would star.

  • Freshmen

    From: Greg Malins as creator, Arianna Huffington and Roy Sekoff producing, with Pamela Fryman directing the pilot. Malins is a veteran writer/producer from Friends, Will & Grace, and How I Met Your Mother. Fryman has directed many episodes of How I Met Your Mother, Two and a Half Men, Just Shoot Me!, Fraiser, Cybill, and many other shows. Huffington is a celebrity and Sekoff is cling-on from The Huffington Post that has nothing to do with television at all.

    Synopsis: When three young, newly-elected members of Congress decide to share a house together, we'll see both their public maneuvering and their behind-the-scenes personal relationships.

    Notes: Ordered to pilot. If Huffington and Sekoff stay out of the way, it might just be funny. If they try to make it political (turning a comedy into a drama), it'll suck.

  • Funny in Farsi

    From: Jeffery B. Hodes and Nastaran Dibai as creators, with Barry Sonnenfeld directing the pilot and producing. Hodes has written and produced for Living Single, The Nanny, 3rd Rock From the Sun, According to Jim, and Hope and Faith. Dibai has written and produced on those series in addition to Jesse and Rita Rocks. Sonnenfeld has produced a number of TV shows over the years, but the only notable series was Bryan Fuller's (Heroes) Pushing Daises. He's well known for his feature film directing career which includes The Adams Family, Get Shorty, Men in Black, Wild Wild West, Men in Black II, and possibly Men in Black III.

    Synopsis: Funny in Farsi is a love letter to America that follows an Iranian family's hilarious attempts to assimilate into the tanned, blond world of early '70s Newport Beach, California. (Based on the best-selling book Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas.)

    Notes: Ordered to pilot.

  • Happy Endings

    From: David Caspe as creator, Jamie Tarses and Jonathan Groff producing, with Anthony Russo directing the pilot. Caspe is new and has no paper trail. Tarses consulted on Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (she worked production on Satuday Night Llive but didn't produce) and has produced for My Boys and Hawthorne. Groff has written and produced for Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Jake Effect, Andy Barker, P.I., Scrubs, and Fringe.  Russo directed for Arrested Development and Community.

    Synopsis: A couple that breaks up at the altar, forcing them and their group of friends to figure out how to maintain their friendships after the split.

    Notes: Ordered to pilot. Notable cast member is Elisha Cuthbert (24).

  • How to be a Better American

    From: Brian Bradley and Steven Cragg as creators, Mike Sikowitz producing, with Adam Bernstein directing the pilot and producing. Bradley wrote and produced extensively for MADTv and wrote two episodes for Scrubs. Cragg wrote and produced for MADTv and Saturday Night Live. Bradley and Cragg appear to have co-wrote their two Scrubs scripts. Sikowitz produce and wrote for Friends, Grounded for Life, The Class, and Rules of Engagement.

    Bernstein directed for Homicide: Life on the Street, Upright Citizens Brigade, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Oz, Ed, Entourage, Rescue Me, Law & Order, 30 Rock, Scrubs, Weeds, Worst Week, Mercy, Californication, and Breaking Bad. (wow...)

    Synopsis: A father who, in this case, embarks on a journey to be a better person and drags his family kicking and screaming along.

    Notes: Ordered to pilot.

  • It Takes a Village

    From: Casey Johnson and David Windsor as creators, Andrea Shay, Deborah Spera, and Mark Gordon producing, with Michael Fresco directing the pilot. Johnson and Windsor appear to be writing partners that have both written and produced for Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, Do Over, What I Like About You, and Greek. Gordon has produced many shows and movies, including LAX, Reaper, Army Wives, Criminal Minds, Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, and feature films Broken Arrow, Speed, The Relic, Saving Private Ryan, A Simple Plan, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012.

    Fesco as directed tons of things, including St. Elsewhere, Law & Order, China Beach, L.A. Law, Doogie Howser, Picket Fences, Murder One, Providence, Monk, JAG, Dead Like Me, The O.C., Aliens in America, My Name is Earl, Better Off Ted, and FOX pilot Keep Hope Alive.

    Spera has produced for Reaper, Army Wives, and Criminal Minds. Shay is a blank slate.

    Synopsis: Two exes - one of whom is a gay father - and their new significant others as they join forces to raise their 15-year-old boy.

    Notes: Ordered to pilot. Formerly titled "Family Values".

  • Mr. Sunshine

    From: Alex Barnow, Mark Firek, and Matthew Perry as creators, Jamie Tarses and Jon Amodeo producing, with Thomas Schlamme directing the pilot and producing. Barnow and Firek have written for Family Guy, and written/produced for Out of Practice, Rules of Engagement, and  'Till Death. Perry should need no explanation. Tarses has produced My Boys and Hawthorne. Amodeo has produced for Doctor Doctor, Teech, Sports Night, Titus, Arrested Development, Samantha Who?, and Accidentally on Purpose.

    Schlamme is a produced Sports Night, The West Wing, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. He's also directed episodes of It's Garry Shandling Show, The Wonder Years, Friends, Mad About You, Spin City, Tracey Takes On..., The Practice, E.R., Ally McBeal, Sports Night, Boston Public, The West Wing, Studio 60, and Parenthood. (The guy has like 9 Emmys.)

    Synopsis: The manager of an aging San Diego stadium who realizes on his 40th birthday that he can no longer get by on just his charming, noncommittal ways.

    Notes: Ordered to pilot. Perry and Allison Janney (The West Wing) would co-star.

  • Nolan Knows Best

    From: Dana Gould as creator, Dave Becky, Mike Scully, and Tom Lassally producing, with Craig Zisk directing the pilot. That may or may not be the right Dana Gould, who will also co-star in the series. The one creating the show is supposed to be a comedian, the one I linked appears to be an actor with some producing chops (The Simpsons, Parks and Recreation.) Becky has recently produced Bored to Death. Scully has written/produced for The Simpsons, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Parks and Recreation. Lassally produced The Goode Family last year.

    Zisk has directed episodes of Charmed, NYPD Blue, Felicity, Smallville, Wonderfalls, Monk, Without a Trace, Alias, Scrubs, Entourage, My Name is Earl, The Office, Weeds, Nip/Tuck, and United States of Tara.

    Synopsis: A guidance counselor at a local high school and father to two young children, who is caught between his father's old school parenting beliefs and his wife's very progressive ideals

    Notes: Ordered to pilot.

  • Southern Discomfort

    From: Chad Kultgen as creator, Eric and Kim Tennenbaum, Mitch Hurwitz, and Rob Long producing, with Andy Cadiff directing the pilot. Kultgen has written a few TV movies and little else. The two Tennenbaums have worked together writing and producing Sit Down Shut Up, Brothers, and Two and a Half Men (and other things of course.) Hurwitz produced/wrote for The Golden Girls, The John Larroquette Show, and created The Ellen Show, Arrested Development, Sit Down Shut Up. Long wrote/produced for Cheers. Cadiff has directed mass TV including Quantum Leap, Home Improvement, Spin City, Rules of Engagement and others.

    Synopsis: A father whose life is turned upside down when his grown kids move back in with him.

    Notes: Ordered to pilot.

  • That Couple

    From: Shana Goldberg-Meehan as creator, James Burrows directing the pilot. Goldberg-Meehan wrote/produced for Friends and created its spin-off, Joey. Burrows is a prolific director who has 10 Emmys on his mantle. He's directed episodes of Mary Tyler Moore, The Bob Newhart Show, Laverne & Shirley, Taxi, Night Court, Cheers, News Radio, 3rd Rock From the Sun, Frasier, Men Behaving Badly, Caroline in the City, Friends, Will & Grace, and the pilot for The Big Bang Theory. And tons of other stuff.

    Synopsis: Two sisters at different stages in their romantic relationships - one sister is in a happy, long-term relationship but isn't married; the other gets pregnant and winds up quickly marrying her new beau.

    Notes: Ordered to pilot. May also be known as Leapfrog.

  • Who Gets the Parents?

    From: Joe Port and Joe Wiseman as creators, Peter Traugott producing, with Mark Cendrowski directing the pilot. Port wrote for Dilbert, Just Shoot Me!, Son of the Beach, and The IT Crowd. Wiseman also wrote for Dilbert and Just Shoot Me! but was a consulting producer for The Office. Traugott has mostly produced in the past decade but only Samantha Who? stands out. Cendrowski directed episodes of Malcolm & Eddie, Oh, Grow Up, The Hughleys, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, The King of Queens, Rules of Engagement, and tons of episodes of The Big Bang Theory.

    Synopsis: Adult siblings who are rocked by their parents' divorce.

    Notes: Ordered to pilot.

  • Wright vs Wrong

    From: Stephanie Weir as creator, Betsy Thomas, Debra Messing, Eric and Kim Tennenbaum, Mitch Hurwitz, and Molly Madden producing, with Andy Fickman directing the pilot. Weir wrote and starred in MADTv. Everything else is acting, but writing sketch comedy isn't easy, and she did it. Thomas created, wrote, produced, and directed for My Boys, and not much else. The Tennenbaums are covered above, as is Mitch Hurwitz. Madden produced a handful of episodes of The Starter Wife in 2008. Fickman directed The Game Plan and Race to Witch Mountain.

    Debra messing is is producing because powerful actors can get pretty much anything they want (not making judgments here, just saying..)

    Synopsis: A comedy about "a female Republican pundit."

    Notes: Ordered to pilot. Messing would star as the pundit.

Also: ABC drama pilots, mid-season replacements, and the introduction post.

Update: I've posted ABC's full fall schedule

in Feature, Television


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