USA Network has given a six-episode order to Donny!, a semi-scripted comedic series toplined by Donny Deutsch that’s described as a satirical look at the media, wealth and modern romance. In the style of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, Donny! stars Deutsch — chairman emeritus of ad agency Deutsch Inc. and a regular on MSNBC’s Morning Joe — as a fictionalized version of himself: a famed ad man, single dad and TV personality.
Donny! is produced by Banks Tarver and Ken Druckerman’s Left/Right, which is behind Odd Mom Out, a similar comedy on USA sibling Bravo that stars author Jill Kargman playing a version of herself. Left/Right previously produced unscripted series Love Calling With Donny Deutsch, which also aired on Bravo.
In Donny!, Deutsch — who had a CNBC show called The Big Idea With Donny Deutsch — hosts his own daytime talk show. Off-camera, he’s a filterless rogue who lives in contrast to almost everything he espouses publicly. Each episode finds him holding court as an expert on various issues (sexting, cellulite) on his show, yet reveals his personal struggle with similar subjects, especially when it comes to his ever-changing romantic partners or the drama of being a single dad. Despite a team of bitingly funny women who work tirelessly to cover his tracks — while busting his chops along the way — Deutsch finds a way to make bad decisions with good intentions.
“The juxtaposition of how Donny portrays his public and personal life in this series is hilarious, and the storylines are a real wink for the viewers, showing that despite anyone’s profile or success, we all deal with the same issues,” said USA President Chris McCumber.
On the show, Deutsch improvises his lines, sometimes breaking the fourth wall, while the rest of the cast works predominantly with a script. The series was picked up off a presentation. I hear USA brass were so impressed by the presentation — originally not intended for public consumption — that parts of it likely will make it to air, with some cast members possibly staying on.
Donny! is being shepherded by USA’s alternative department, which also oversees the network’s breakout comedy reality series Chrisley Knows Best. Donny! is slated to premiere in late 2015, possibly paired with Chrisley. While USA has pulled away from developing new traditional half-hour scripted comedy series, the network is very much in the alternative comedy business. (And it is committed to its existing scripted comedy series, Sirens and Playing House, both renewed for a second season.)