EXCLUSIVE: Golden Boys? Three decades after Golden Girls‘ successful 173-episode run on NBC, ABC is developing an ensemble comedy about people in retirement age, this time on the male side. The project, from The Neighbors creator Dan Fogelman and The George Lopez Show co-creator Robert Borden, revolves around three long-lost basketball teammates who reconnect in their 60s and discover they still have a lot to learn about love and friendship. Borden is writing and will executive produce with Fogelman through Fogelman’s Rhode Island Ave. Prods and ABC Studios.
It is good timing for the project, coming on the heels of a weekend where three opening movies featured stars over 60: Fogelman-penned comedy Last Vegas (Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas and Kevin Kline) and dramas Ender’s Game (Harrison Ford) and All Is Lost (Robert Redford). With the baby boomers entering retirement, there is a growing audience for entertainment featuring more mature stars, with such movies showing far stronger legs, like 2007′s The Bucket List, headlined by Freeman and Jack Nicholson, which stayed in theaters for more than months, growing its domestic tally to $93.5 million. Older action stars continue to headline franchises like The Expendables and RED. Mature characters also can have young appeal: FX’s American Horror Story: Coven, toplined by Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett, is breaking FX’s all-time records in adults 18-34. Still, the broadcast networks largely have been steering away from shows with older leads in the past couple of years, since the cancellation of NBC drama Harry’s Law starring Bates. (though CBS is doing just fine with the Tom Selleck starrer Blue Bloods). On the comedy side, the only example of a show with older characters in the past decade I can think of is the 2006 NBC series Twenty Good Years starring Jeffrey Tambor and John Lithgow, though a younger ensemble led by 62-year-old Robin Williams, CBS’ The Crazy Ones, posted the biggest premiere for a new comedy this season. Overseas, British comedy Vicious starring Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi has done well for ITV and last week was acquired by PBS in the U.S. But efforts to mount an American remake have proven fruitless, at least for now. In addition to The Neighbors, WME-repped Fogelman has single-camera fairytale comedy pilot Galavant through his overall deal at ABC Studios. UTA-repped Borden also developed/exec produced NBC’s comedy series Outsourced.