EXCLUSIVE: Fox is expanding its relationship with new American Idol judge Harry Connick Jr to the scripted side, handing a put pilot commitment to a multi-camera comedy starring the popular singer-actor. The untitled project, penned by veteran Late Show writers Eric Stangel & Justin Stangel, is a family comedy with a musical element starring Connick as a successful entertainer and single dad who takes time off to reconnect with his teenage daughter. David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants, where the Stangel bothers are under a development deal, is producing with ABC Studios. Connick Jr, the Stangels and Worldwide Pants’ Letterman, Rob Burnett and Ann Marie Wilkins executive produce.
This is the latest major commitment from an outside network for an ABC Studios comedy in the studio’s first season actively selling on the open marketplace. Both ABC’s new boss Patrick Moran and head of comedy Amy Hartwick came from 20th TV, which, while aligned with Fox, supplies all major broadcast networks, so the goal was to not let vertical integration stand in the way of finding ABC Studios’ comedy pitches the most suitable home. Their efforts resulted in four put pilot commitments at all other major networks — for the Harry Connick Jr project at Fox; workplace comedy The Pro starring Rob Lowe at NBC; and two half-hour projects at CBS, comedies from Jonathan Groff and Lee Eisenberg, Gene Stupnitsky & Danny Chun. Additionally, the studio had received an early pilot order for Dan Fogelman’s half-hour Galavant and a pilot production commitment for a comedy from June Diane Raphael, Casey Wilson & Groff at ABC.
This would mark Connick Jr’s first series regular role and a return to comedy after his high-profile recurring role on another multi-camera comedy, NBC’s Will & Grace. The Harry Connick Jr project landed at ABC Studios in a very competitive situation with two other studios vying for the show. It marks the first sale for the Stangels under the overall deal they inked with Late Show producer Worldwide Pants in January when they stepped down as head writers after a 14-year stint but remained writers on the CBS late-night show. Worldwide Pants’ highest-profile primetime series to date is CBS’ hit comedy Everybody Loves Raymond. Connick Jr. , Worldwide Pants and the Stangel Brothers are repped by CAA.