UPDATE, 12 PM: NBC just confirmed the pilot pickup for Brenda Forever, providing a more detailed logline: “Stories from Brenda Miller’s past and present are interwoven to give a unique portrait of how a chubby, awkward, but incredibly confident 13-year-old grew up to be a 31-year-old woman who still marches to the beat of her own drum.”
PREVIOUS, TUESDAY PM: It’s been a very tough January spec market this season, with several high profile scripts taken out, including a comedy starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, and none of them selling. Until now. I’ve learned that, in a competitive situation with NBC and Fox bidding, Brenda Forever, a high-concept comedy script by writers Andrew Leeds and David Lampson, just landed at NBC with a pilot order. Casting on the project is yet to begin but I hear Ellie Kemper, who is close friends with Leeds and Lampson, has had informal conversations and is interested in playing the lead. That would be coup for the show as Kemper has been among the most sought-after actresses this pilot season.
Brenda Forever takes place in two time periods, following Brenda growing up as both a 31-year-old woman and a 13-year-old girl. The project was developed internally at Sony Pictures TV with studio-based Fedora Entertainment. Lampson, Leeds and Fedora’s Peter Tolan and Michael Wimer executive produce. Sony TV took a gamble with Leeds and Lampson, signing a deal with the duo back in April to develop a project in-house instead of going through the regular pitch process. It just paid off. Brenda Forever reunites Leeds and Lampson with NBC where they landed their first network pilot, the 2010 Rex Is Not Your Lawyer.
The sizzling 2010-11 spec marketplace, driven in part by the fact that two networks, NBC and ABC, had new programming chiefs, resulted in a slew of specs picked up to pilot and a whopping 6 of them going to series — NBC’s Awake, Fox’s Touch, CBS’ 2 Broke Girls and How To Be A Gentleman, ABC’s Don’t Trust The B—- In Apt. 23 and the CW’s Ringer. But last season, the January spec buying ground to a halt, a trend that has continued this year. This marks Fedora’s third pilot this season, joining the Greg Kinnear-starrting Fox drama Rake and the Jim Gaffigan CBS comedy. Leeds and Lampson, who got their break on the Bravo series Situation: Comedy, are with CAA, which also reps Fedora. Kemper is with WME and Mosaic.