After introducing two family comedies last season, The Millers and Mom, and renewing both, CBS is looking to expand its footprint in the genre with Friday Night Dinner. Based on the Channel 4 series created by Robert Popper, the project, from Warner Bros. TV and 3 Arts Entertainment, has received a put pilot commitment from the network. It focuses on the regular dinner experience of a family each Friday night. Popper will be writing the U.S. version as part of a two-script deal he had signed with WBTV. I hear the intention is to keep the single-camera nature of the series, infused with comedy and heart in the vein of ABC’s Modern Family, though the project is still in early stages and doing it in a multi-camera format is a possibility.
Popper’s original semi-autobiographical series, produced by Big Talk Prods., centers on the Goodmans, a traditional but not strictly observant Jewish family, and chronicles their Shabbat dinners. Every Friday night, brothers Adam and Jonny reluctantly visit their parents — mom Jackie, who is obsessed with MasterChef, and dad Martin, who loves to walk around shirtless — for a home-cooked meal. Adding to the gallery of oddball characters is a grandmother who struts her stuff in a bikini and eccentric neighbor Jim who constantly interrupts dinner. Here is a trailer for the British series, co-starring Episodes‘ Tamsin Greig, which features comments by Popper. It is not clear yet whether the family in the CBS version will be Jewish or not.
This is the second attempt to adapt Friday Night Dinner in the U.S. — NBC tried it during the 2011-12 season, with The Office developer Greg Daniels writing and executive producing a pilot starring Allison Janney and Tony Shalhoub that didn’t go to series.
The original series launched in the UK in 2011 and recently aired its third season. It has aired in the U.S. on BBC America. The U.S. version hails from WBTV, 3 Arts, Big Talk and Poppers Pictures, with Popper executive producing alongside 3 Arts’ Michael Rotenberg and Nicholas Frenkel and Big Talk’s CEO Kenton Allen and managing director Matthew Justice.
In addition to Friday Night Dinner, Popper co-created the BBC comedy Look Around You, both of which have been nominated for a BAFTA TV Award for best comedy series. He also has worked on other popular British comedy series, including The Inbetweeners, Peep Show and The IT Crowd. Popper also has experience on an American series with a stint on Comedy Central’s South Park.