NBC has given a pilot green light to a single-camera comedy from Fresh Off The Boat co-executive producer Kourtney Kang and creator/executive producer Nahnatchka Khan, actor-director Fred Savage, and 20th TV. I’ve learned exclusively that Isabella Russo has been cast as the young lead in the show written by Kang based on her life, which explores what it’s like to grow up as the only girl in the only mixed-race family in the suburbs of Philadelphia, dealing with real-world issues like race and gender while never losing focus of her life goal… to become a Laker Girl like her idol Paula Abdul.
Russo, who originated the role of Summer in School Of Rock on Broadway, will play that half-Asian girl, Katie, growing up in the suburbs of Philly in 1988. Because the role is so specific, talent search began ahead of the formal pilot green light, which I hear was contingent on finding a girl to play Katie. Launching a preliminary casting process also made sense since this was one of the hottest NBC comedy scripts this season, and the Kang project already had a put pilot commitment.
The comedy, from 20th where FOTB showrunner Khan, Kang and Savage are under overall deals, marked the first sale through Khan’s Fierce Baby production banner which was launched as a full-fledged pod last summer with the hire of Mandy Summers as head of development. Kang, Khan, Savage and Summers executive produce, with Savage set to direct the pilot.
Russo recently finished her run in School Of Rock and is rehearsing for the world premiere of James Lecesne’s Mother Of Invention which is playing off-Broadway with the Abingdon Theatre Company from February 9-26. She is repped by CESD.
This is the first formal comedy pilot greenlight this season at NBC, which just gave a 10-episode order to a new season of Will & Grace. On the drama side, the network had picked up military hero drama For God And Country and suburban drama Good Girls.
At NBC, 20th TV produces breakout new drama This Is Us, which was just renewed for two seasons.