In a competitive situation, CBS has made a pilot production commitment to a multi-camera comedy executive produced by Bill Lawrence. Written and executive produced by Jeff Astrof, the project revolves around two lifelong best friends who are poised to become successful restaurateurs — if they can keep from killing each other. In order to keep their business (and friendship) alive, the two decide to see a couples therapist, who will guide them through life, love and the fast-paced world of being big-city restaurant owners.

Image (1) astrof__130528232652-275x392.png for post 509365Image (2) lawrence1110831232210.jpg for post 599828The setup might draw parallels to the USA dramedy Common Law, about two cop partners whose constant bickering and disdain for each other prompts their commanding officer to send them to a couples therapist. But the Meatball comedy is rooted firmly in reality via Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow, who serve as consulting producers. The duo, who own the Meatball Shop restaurants in New York City, are best friends from high school who teamed to open a restaurant together. They soon realized they can’t stand working together, bickering over every decision, but their business took off and, with millions of dollars at stake, they couldn’t break up and had to find a way to hold it together. So they started seeing a marriage counselor.

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With the success of their restaurant franchise, which now includes six New York locations, Holzman and Chernow became popular guests on TV programs like Good Morning America, Rachael Ray, Martha Stewart and Anderson Live (watch a video below). Companies started reaching out to them to do a reality series, and they did a tape for All3Media America, whose president is Daniel’s brother, Eli Holzman. The company is repped by ICM Partners, which also reps Astrof. The Friends alum had been looking to adapt a comedy format, and the Meatball Shop tape came up in a meeting he had with All3Media executives about scripted formats in their international library. Astrof immediately jumped at the idea as he had had a similar experience working with a longtime friend.  The project was set up at Lawrence’s Doozer and Warner Bros TV, where the company is based. Astrof and Lawrence executive produce with Doozer’s Jeff Ingold and All3 Media America’s Eli Holzman and Stephen Lambert.

Astrof serves as showrunner on Doozer/Warner Horizon’s TBS comedy Ground Floor, co-created by Lawrence, who also is repped by ICM Partners. Daniel Holzman is repped by WME; Chernow is with WME and Mortar Media.