Eva Longoria’s return to primetime TV as the star of a new comedy series Telenovela was one of NBC’s biggest announcements at TCA today. I have learned that the project is part of a big new three-year pod deal for Longoria’s UnveliEVAble Entertainment. I hear the pact spans television as well as film and includes multiple pilot commitments as well as a series penalty on the TV side.
NBCUniversal stepping up in a big way to keep UnbeliEVAble in the fold no doubt played a major role in Longoria’s decision to commit to Telenovela. She had been heavily courted with single-camera comedy vehicles by two networks this season, NBC and ABC.
At ABC, a half-hour from Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky was fast-tracked as a script that was going to go to pilot with a 13-episode penalty for Longoria if she committed to star.
NBC had promised Telenovela, from Cougar Town co-executive producers Chrissy Pietrosh and Jessica Goldstein, a 13-episode order if Longoria committed to star and a pilot order if she didn’t. There had been discussions about cross-promotion with Spanish language sister network Telemundo. Showing its commitment to the project, NBC hired a casting director long before Longoria had decided which comedy she would do as an actress.
Longoria’s UnbeliEVAble had been under a first-look deal at Universal TV since 2012. She and producing partner Ben Spector, who executive produce Telenovela together, had been developing the project, based on an idea by Longoria, at the studio for some time.
This development season, UnbeliEVAble, repped by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment, has set up nine projects, including medical drama Critical at NBC and Texas political/family drama Pair Of Aces at ABC.