CBS seems determined to get a comedy from My Name Is Earl and Raising Hope creator Greg Garcia on the air next season, handing out pilot orders to both of his scripts, one single- and one multi-camera. They were among four CBS pilots ordered tonight as the network kept its odd pilot season tradition of greenlighting a slew of pilots after hours on a Friday night. The other two pickups went to the Will Gluck-produced comedy The McCarthys, from writer Brian Gallivan; and The Ordained, a drama from a novice TV writer, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, which is produced by Frank Marshall. These mark the first pilot orders for Garcia and Marshall in the first development cycles under their deals at CBS TV Studios, while The McCarthys hails from Sony TV where Gluck’s Olive Bridge Entertainment is based.
Garcia’s single-camera pilot Super Clyde centers on a meek, unassuming fast food worker who decides to become a super hero. The untitled multi-camera one centers on a recently divorced man whose life is complicated when his parents decide to move in with him. Both projects are written and executive produced by CAA-repped Garcia, who moved from long-time home 20th TV to CBS Studios last May in a very rich four-year overall deal. The double pickup almost assures Emmy winner Garcia’s return to CBS’ primetime seven years after the end of the network’s comedy series Yes, Dear, which he co-created. Garcia’s commitment to Fox’s Raising Hope, now in its third season, concludes at the end of this season. The family comedy has done well enough to earn another renewal but Garcia’s departure would certainly reflect on the show’s chances.
The single-camera The McCarthys landed at CBS in October in a competitive situation with a put pilot commitment. Written by Happy Endings staff writer Gallivan, it is loosely inspired by Gallivan’s life. The big family comedy revolves around an Irish-Catholic, sports-crazed Boston clan and the gay son whose greatest sin is not his sexuality but his desire to spend less time with his family. Gluck executive produces and Gallivan and Olive Bridge’s Richie Schwartz co-executive produce. CAA-repped Gallivan grew up in the Boston are where he taught middle school language arts before embarking on a comedy career at Boston’s Improv Asylum, Chicago’s Second City Chicago and now Upright Citizens Brigade.
The drama pilot, Cullen’s The Ordained, is about the son of a Kennedy-esque family who leaves the priesthood and becomes a lawyer to prevent his politician sister from being assassinated. Cullen and Robert Zotnowski co-executive produce, while Marshall, and the Shuman Co.’s Larry Shuman and A.B. Fischer exec produce.
The back story of Cullen’s project is the kind aspiring writers dream of. Cullen, who has no TV credits, lives in New Jersey with her husband, a Broadway composer, and her two young kids. The journalist-turned-author had been pursuing TV writing career but hadn’t been able to get a New York-based staff job, so she had focused on development, landing two blind deals along the way. She originally took out The Ordained as a pitch last season but it didn’t sell. Cullen didn’t give up and wrote it up as a spec, with the essence of the lead character inspired by her late father, a former priest. After developing it with her management company, The Shuman Co, the spec was sent out to TV studios this past summer as a drama for basic cable. But at CBS TV Studios, head of drama Julie McNamara, who oversees both cable development, where the spec first landed, and broadcast, decided to give the script to CBS instead. It was quickly set up at the network, and Marshall was attached as an executive producer. The overall deal the Kennedy/Marshall Co. signed with CBS TV Studios in May included a pilot commitment at CBS, which has now been fulfilled with The Ordained. With Marshall partner Kathleen Kennedy leaving in June to run Lucasfilm, Marshall is spearheading Kennedy/Marshall’s TV efforts alongside the company’s head of TV development Zotnowski. UTA-repped Cullen’s upcoming novel, Pastors’ Wives, also carries the faith theme — it is set in a megachurch.
CBS, traditionally late to the pilot pickup party, has been unusually aggressive this year, especially on the comedy side where it has already ordered six pilots, putting a big emphasis on single-camera comedy. Four of the six pilots are single-camera, Super Clyde, The McCarthys, the Jim Gaffigan/Peter Tolan project starring Gaffigan and the Rob Greenberg project starring Tony Shalhoub, Kal Penn and Jerry O’Connell. On the multi-camera side, the network has Garcia’s untitled comedy as well as Chuck Lorre’s Mom starring Anna Faris. Drama-wise, The Ordained joins Hostages and the NCIS: LA planted spinoff.