The project was originally piloted last season. While it didn’t make the cut, the pilot was in serious contention, with CBS brass particularly high on lead Jermaine Fowler. A new pilot was ordered after the upfronts and some roles recast, including the co-lead role, now played by veteran Judd Hirsch. A last-second cast addition to the new pilot was another seasoned sitcom star, Katey Sagal, who was brought in as a guest star as she was a regular in first position on another CBS comedy pilot in contention for midseason, Furst Born. She will now continue as a regular on Superior Donuts, while Furst Born is not expected to go forward.
Written/executive produced by Bob Daily, Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan based on the play by Tracy Letts, Superior Donuts follows the relationship between the gruff owner (Hirsch) of a small donut shop, his enterprising new young employee (Fowler) and their loyal patrons, in a quickly gentrifying Chicago neighborhood. David Koechner, Maz Jobrani, Anna Baryshnikov, Darien Sills-Evans and Rell Battle also co-star.
“This show has been very high on our radar since we first put it into development last winter,” said CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller. “Jermaine Fowler is a rising young star, Judd Hirsch is a comedy legend and the entire cast is full of great comedic talent.”
Superior Donuts was considered a priority for CBS and a likely series pickup at the network, which came under scrutiny this past summer for a crop of new fall series that all had white male leads. “We will do better,” Geller said at TCA last month.
This is the latest example of a CBS project to score a series order after going through a second pilot. The list includes mega hit The Big Bang Theory, crime drama Numbers and the upcoming legal drama Doubt. Here is an interesting factoid. Like with Superior Donuts, the recasting of the original Numbers pilot involved bringing in Hirsch as a lead in the second pilot. It was picked up to series that had a successful run on the network.
Superior Donuts is produced by CBS Television Studios. Daily, Goldman and Donovan executive produce with Mark Teitelbaum, John Montgomery, Michael Rotenberg, Josh Lieberman and Fowler. It is the only backup comedy at CBS this season.
This marks a second series for Daily who also is executive producer/showrunner of CBS/CBS TV Studios’ The Odd Couple.