After venturing into the 10/90 sitcom model with the Charlie Sheen comedy Anger Management, FX has closed another 10/90 deal with the companies behind Anger Management, Lionsgate TV and Lionsgate’s television distribution company Debmar-Mercury, for a half-hour sitcom starring and co-created by actor-comedian George Lopez. Under the pact, FX has given an initial 10-episode order to the project, titled Saint George. If it meets pre-set ratings thresholds over the 10-episode run, the network will trigger an additional 90-episode pickup the way it did last year on Anger Management.
Lopez originally signed a deal with Lionsgate TV and Debmar-Mercury to co-create, star in and executive produce a Latino family sitcom in early 2012. In February, he teamed with Roseanne creator Matt Williams after Lionsgate signed a first-look deal with Williams and his Wind Dancer Films earmarked for the Lopez show. Created and co-written by Williams, his Wind Dancer partner David McFadzean and Lopez, Saint George revolves around the chaotic life of a recently divorced working class Mexican-American turned successful entrepreneur (Lopez), who struggles to balance his demanding ex-wife, his 11-year-old son, his overbearing mother who just moved in, and his uncle, as well as his new role as a philanthropist “giving back” by teaching history once a week at a night school. “In the tradition of George’s frank and fearless standup comedy, Saint George will reflect his no-holds-barred comedic take on the tensions surrounding race, class, sex and family life in Los Angeles through the eyes of a man straddling two separate cultures,” said Lionsgate TV Group President Kevin Beggs said. Production of the 10-episode order begins in August.
Saint George marks Lopez’s return to the sitcom world. He was the star, co-creator and executive producer of his eponymous comedy series, which aired on ABC for six seasons and 120 episodes. While not a major hit in its original run on ABC, George Lopez has enjoyed a strong afterlife in syndication. A decade after its ABC premiere, the show, which was co-created/ran by Anger Management showrunner Bruce Helford, continues to do well in primetime on cable, Nick at Nite and a Spanish-language version on MTV’s Tr3s, and in the afternoon in broadcast syndication. That wasn’t lost on FX brass who have been using 10/90 original sitcoms as an alternative to buying off-network comedies. “George Lopez is an incredibly gifted actor-producer and one of the most talented comedians in the business,” the network’s EVP Chuck Saftler said. “The 10/90 model requires a unique individual who has the ability to pull off this kind of daunting schedule. George is that guy and we couldn’t be happier that he chose FX as the home for his new project.” Sitcoms under the 10/90 model are produced on an accelerated schedule, with the goal to quickly amass enough episodes for the sitcom’s launch in broadcast syndication. The 100 episodes in the deal are usually filmed within two years. Anger Management, which premiered on FX last June, has already shot over 40 episodes.
Saint George will be produced by Lionsgate TV in association with Wind Dancer Films, Travieso Prods. and 3 Arts Entertainment. Lopez, Williams and McFadzean executive produce with Lopez’s manager, 3 Arts’ Michael Rotenberg. “I’m excited about my new show, couldn’t think of a better group of people or better place to create than FX,” Lopez said. “Now to get ready… Back to Pilates!” Saint George joins Debmar-Mercury’s previous 10/90 successes with ethnic family sitcoms: Tyler Perry’s House Of Payne and Meet The Browns and Ice Cube’s Are We There Yet? “Our business model is all about finding unique talent and broad concepts that have the best chance of succeeding both on networks and later in off-net syndication,” said Debmar-Mercury Co-Presidents Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein. “George Lopez’s broad appeal and strong following from the rapidly growing Hispanic audience, combined with the unmatched experience and track record of Matt and David, makes us extremely confident they can deliver our next big hit.”
Williams began his TV career writing and producing for The Cosby Show before co-creating A Different World, creating and executive producing Roseanne and, under the Wind Dancer banner with Carmen Finestra and McFadzean, co-creating Home Improvement, Carol Burnett’s Carol & Company, Dave Chappelle’s Buddies and Dan Aykroyd’s Soul Man. He is repped by WME. In addition to his television career, CAA-repped Lopez continues to perform as a standup comic and to record comedy albums.