EXCLUSIVE: In one of the biggest half-hour sales so far this season, ABC has landed a family comedy from Black-ish creator/executive producer Kenya Barris and co-executive producer Vijal Patel, which has Emmy winner Felicity Huffman attached to star and executive produce. The single-camera project about a politically divided family hails from ABC Studios, where Barris and Patel are under overall deals. The big commitment, a rarity for a deal between a studio and its sister network, underscores the competitiveness of the sale.
Written by Barris and Patel, the Untitled Political Project (fka Libby & Malcolm) is a family comedy that takes a very real look at how today’s “politics of division” play out between two opposing pundits who also happen to be married. One’s black, one’s white; one’s left, one’s right. Bitter rivals at work on their pundit show Black & Wright, they have to turn conflict into compromise at home when it comes to raising their kids. Huffman will play the wife.
Barris executive produces through his Khalabo Ink Society alongside Patel, Huffman and Principato Young Entertainment’s E. Brian Dobbins.
Barris does not shy away from searing political commentary on ABC’s Black-ish, which has tackled such topics as race and police brutality. While that is rarely seen on TV, there is a tradition about blending family comedy and politics that goes all the way back to All in the Family.
Barris and Patel recently shared in the first Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy nomination for Black-ish, which Barris created, executive produces and showruns. The acclaimed comedy series kicked off its third season last week.
This is the second high-profile sale for Barris and his Khalabo Ink Society this season. Also at ABC, Barris executive produces action dramedy Unit Zero, starring/executive produced by Toni Collette and written by another Black-ish writer-producer, Lindsey Shockley. David Gordon Green is attached to direct. Barris is repped by CAA, Principato Young and attorney Gregg Gellman.
Huffman’s involvement in the Kenya/Patel comedy means that she will no longer be attached to the ABC/ABCS fashion biz dramedy House Of Moore. The project, from Kapital Entertainment, Daniel and Ben Barnz, and new executive producers/showrunners Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain, remains in development at ABC, which had been high on the concept, taking a second stab at it this season after originally commissioning a script last season.
A starring role on the Kenya/Patel comedy would not interfere with Huffman’s commitment to John Ridley’s ABC/ABCS anthology series American Crime, which has earned her two Emmy nominations. She would be able to continue on American Crime concurrently with the comedy should both be picked up for next season. Huffman is repped by CAA.
Patel, who recently signed a new overall deal at ABC Studios, wrote and executive produced the ABC/ABCS comedy pilot, Square Roots, which was directed by Michael Fresco. The writer-producer, whose previous credits include Trophy Wife and The Middle, is repped by APA.