Neil Simon’s classic The Odd Couple is getting closer to a primetime return with a pilot order by CBS to the multi-camera version starring, co-written and executive produced by Matthew Perry. The project, which had a script commitment with penalty, is a new take on two mismatched roommates — the messy Oscar Madison (Perry) and the neat freak Felix Unger. It was written by Perry and Frasier veteran Joe Keenan, the latter replacing original co-writer Danny Jacobson. The Odd Couple pilot hails from CBS TV Studios and two of its top pods, Timberman-Beverly and The Tannenbaum Co. It marks Friends alum Perry’s return to multi-camera comedy after two single-camera shows — ABC’s Mr. Sunshine, which he also co-created, and NBC’s Go On. Simon’s play The Odd Couple premiered on Broadway in 1965 with Walter Matthau as Oscar and Art Carney as Felix and spawned a successful 1968 movie in which Matthau reprised his role alongside Jack Lemmon as Felix, and the 1970 ABC/Paramount TV series in which Oscar was played by Jack Klugman and Felix by Tony Randall. It ran for five seasons.
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For Perry, doing The Odd Couple has been a dream 34 years in the making. “Ever since seeing the movie The Odd Couple when I was 10 years old, it has been a dream for me to play Oscar Madison,” he said at the time the pitch was sold to CBS in December. “To be given the opportunity to develop a modern version of it for CBS has put a permanent smile across my face…. Plus, I think it’s time for me to be in front of a live audience again. I miss that. The search for Felix Ungar is on!”
Perry is executive producing with Carl Beverly & Sarah Timberman and Eric Tannenbaum & Kim Tannenbaum. In addition to the hit 1968 movie and the 1970 series, there was an Odd Couple movie sequel starring Matthau and Lemmon; a CBS Odd Couple reunion TV movie; a short-lived The New Odd Couple follow-up ABC series with black leads produced by Garry Marshall; an ABC cartoon; and The Female Odd Couple, a female version of the play by Simon.