EXCLUSIVE: The Ellen DeGeneres-produced comedy starring her wife Portia de Rossi, which sparked a bidding war in September, is going to pilot. But in a twist, the order is at ABC and not at NBC, where the pitch was originally sold with a put pilot commitment. I hear that, in a quick turnaround, ABC has snatched the multi-camera comedy titled The Smart One after NBC passed. The project, written by Samantha Who? co-creator/executive producer Don Todd, is about dueling sisters. Arrested Development and Ally McBeal alumna de Rossi plays one of them, a brilliant and successful woman who has to go to work for her less brainy but more popular sister — a former beauty queen, weather girl … and now big-city mayor. DeGeneres and Todd are executive producing with Lauren Corrao. The project hails from Warner Bros TV and DeGeneres’ studio-based production company A Very Good Production. It marks the first pilot order for A Very Good Production, in its first development season under a multi-year deal with WBTV, where it’s run by former Comedy Central president of original programming Corrao.
This marks a return to ABC for de Rossi, who recently starred on the network’s underrated comedy Better Off Ted, and for DeGeneres, who rose to fame with her own sitcom on ABC in the 1990s. This is the second NBC comedy project with talent attached to it that has scored a pilot order elsewhere after passed on by the peacock network. Earlier this week, Fox greenlighted a medical comedy created by and starring The Office‘s Mindy Kaling, which hails from NBC sibling Universal TV as part of the studio’s expansion into producing for other networks. Meanwhile, NBC released The Smart One early to allow it to go to ABC in part because of NBCU’s long-standing relationship with DeGeneres, whose daytime talk show is a cornerstone on the NBC Owned & Operated stations.