EXCLUSIVE: ABC, the broadcast home of NBA games, is expanding its relationship with the league to the scripted side with a single-camera comedy, which has received a put pilot commitment. The project, executive produced by The Neighbors and Galavant creator Dan Fogelman, Mandalay Sports Media’s Peter Guber & Mike Tollin, and Kapital Entertainment’s Aaron Kaplan, is being done with the cooperation of the NBA and its team Golden State Warriors, co-owned by Guber.
Written/executive produced by Casey Johnson and David Windsor (Trophy Wife), the untitled half-hour, from ABC Studios, is a buddy comedy set in the world of the NBA about a rookie who doesn’t speak English and a translator who doesn’t speak basketball. “It’s basically the international Odd Couple set in the NBA,” Fogelman said.
I hear the project is being put on a fast track, with a casting director on board to explore options for the lead.
“For me getting to set a show in the world of the actual NBA where we don’t have to make up fake leagues and team names — it’s been a dream of mine,” said Fogelman. He had always wanted to do a show set in the NBA, something Jess Rosenthal, who runs his company Rhode Island Ave Productions, was well aware of. “We realized that the NBA is the most international league right now, and the idea was born,” he said. “Then Mike Tollin and ABC and the NBA worked like hell to make the complicated partnership work. We are incredibly excited.” Professional sports leagues are very protective of their brand, so collaborations like this one are rare and take a lot of time effort on both sides.
The NBA comedy reunites Cars and Last Vegas scribe Fogelman with Windsor and Johnson, who were writer-producers on his first series as a creator, the WB’s Like Family 11 years ago. Fogelman had been looking to work with them since then, with the stars finally aligning now that the three are under a deal at ABC Studios and all happen to be big basketball fans. “When Casey and David write a heartfelt odd couple relationship in that workplace, it will become a show for everyone,” Fogelman said. “Now we just need to find a 7-foot foreigner who can deliver a joke.”
The project also reunites Fogelman with Kaplan, who executive produced The Neighbors with him. This marks the third put pilot commitment for Kaplan this season, joining period female cop procedural Broad Squad, also at ABC, and a Dana Klein comedy at Fox. At ABC, he also has upcoming murder mystery drama Secrets & Lies and two starring vehicles in the works: comedies toplined by Chevy Chase & Beverly D’Angelo and Eve.
Fogelman, repped by WME and Management 360, also has a put pilot commitment at Fox for a single-camera comedy starring John Stamos, which he is executive producing.
Windsor and Johnson, repped by ICM Partners, also have a Dan Savage project in development at ABC.
This is ABC’s second professional sports comedy in the works, joining a half-hour inspired by the life of openly gay soccer player Robbie Rogers, which does not have the involvement of Major League Soccer.