Following Debmar-Mercury’s success with the Tyler Perry sitcoms House Of Payne and Meet The Browns and Ice Cube’s Are We There Yet?, another syndication player is trying their hand at the model of accelerated production of urban comedy series for a run in broadcast syndication. Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios has just started filming Mr. Box Office, a pilot for a multi-camera comedy series starring actor/comedian Bill Bellamy. Co-starring in the project, which is aiming at producing a minimum of 104 episodes over two years, are Saturday Night Live alum Tim Meadows, Vivica A. Fox (Independence Day), former NBA star/actor Rick Fox, Keshia Knight Pulliam (Cosby), Jon Lovitz (SNL) and Gary Busey. Allen would not discuss his plans for the project but I sources indicate that Entertainment Studios has teamed on it with Tribune Entertainment and, in success, the show would air on the CW-affiliated stations through Tribune, the main station group carrying the CW. It is unclear whether Mr. Box Office also is targeting a cable run. All sitcoms under Debmar-Mercury’s 10-90 model run on a cable network while amassing episodes for a launch in broadcast syndication: House Of Payne, Meet The Browns and Are We There Yet? on TBS and Charlie Sheen’s upcoming Anger Management on FX. TBS is not aware of the the project at this time. According to sources, Mr. Box Office is eying a primetime launch this fall.
Created and written by Byron Allen and Scott Satin (First Family), Mr. Box Office centers on actor Marcus Jackson (Bellamy), one of the biggest movie stars in the world who, after pushing a paparazzi, finds himself having to put his film career on hold, while relegated to a long-term community service stint teaching underprivileged high school kids in South Central. Rick Fox, repped by TalenWorks and The Collective, will play a physical education teacher at the school. Vivica Fox, repped by Media Artists Group, will play a cougar history teacher. Allen and Satin are executive producing with Bellamy, Barry Katz and Carolyn Folks. Bellamy, who has two specials slated to air on Showtime this year—Bill Bellamy: Crazy, Sexy, Dirty premiering on June 2, and Ladies Night Out — is repped by APA and managed by Katz.