One of the biggest multi-camera sales this past development season was a family comedy toplined and produced by reality stars Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons & Justine Simmons, which ABC landed in October in a very competitive situation with a put pilot commitment plus a big penalty. The multi-camera/hybrid project did not get a pilot order, but producing companies Amblin TV and ABC Studios are pulling together resources to finance a pilot presentation.
Outside of CBS, it’s always tough for multi-camera comedies, with 1-2 pilot orders tops at each of the other nets. ABC went for two, the high-profile Household Name, marking the TV return of legend Carol Burnett, and a single-dad sitcom, in its pilot orders. But Amblin TV co-presidents Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey believed in the project and in the chemistry between Rev Run and Justine. Based on the strong interest the pitch has received by multiple networks, they decided to use the money from the penalty paid by ABC for not ordering a pilot to fund a presentation. They reached out to ABC Studios, where the comedy had been set, and the studio came on board to back the presentation.
A truncated version of the original script by Jeremy Bronson will be filmed at the beginning of April, likely on the set of ABC/ABC Studios’ Black-ish, with Don Scardino directing. Casting is already underway for the presentation, which, when completed, will be shopped around by Amblin TV and ABC Studios, starting with ABC. Streaming platforms are expected to be targeted along with traditional networks.
The situation is reminiscent of the 2014 ABC multi-camera project Cristela which, for similar reasons, missed the cut for a pilot order but its producers at 20th TV did not give up and used the money from the penalty to shoot a pilot on a shoestring budget using the stage of the studio’s ABC multi-camera comedy pilot Last Man Standing. Cristela beat the odds and landed a series order by ABC.
Written by Bronson (The Mindy Project), with veteran comedy writer-producer Jhoni Marchinko (Will & Grace) supervising, the untitled Rev Run Simmons/Justine Simmons comedy centers on a legendary rapper whose plans for slowing down are thwarted when his wife decides to pursue her own dreams and stardom.
The project is fictional and not based or inspired by the Simmons. Joseph Simmons, known for his stage names Rev Run and DJ Run, was one of the founding members of the iconic hip-hop group Run-D.M.C. in addition to being a practicing minister.
Bronson and Marchinko executive produce the comedy alongside Rev Run Simmons & Justine Simmons, Michael Lehman of Simmons Lehman Productions and Amblin TV’s Frank and Falvey.
This is the second pilot for Bronson this season. He also is writing/executive producing ABC’s untitled single-camera city mayor comedy pilot, with Daveed Diggs and Bluegrass Fanfare producing.
Like rocker Ozzy Osbourne with MTV’s The Osbournes, Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Simmons found a new audience and reality stardom with his popular series Run’s House, which ran on MTV for six seasons and introduced his family including wife Justine.
In addition to the Rev Run/Justine Simmons presentation, Amblin TV has NBC drama pilot Reverie. The company is behind successful CBS freshman drama series Bull and FX’s acclaimed The Americans.