EXCLUSIVE: The spinoff of ABC’s acclaimed family comedy Black-ish, toplined by young co-star Yara Shahidi, is eying a series green light with a twist — it would be moving to another network. I’ve learned that Freeform is in talks for a series order to the project, which originated as a planted spinoff episode of the mothership ABC series that aired this spring.
Toplined by Shahidi, the spinoff focuses on her character Zoey Johnson — Dre (Anthony Anderson) and Rainbow’s (Tracee Ellis Ross) popular, entitled, stylish and socially active 17-year-old daughter — as she heads to college. While the pilot was received well at ABC, it was deemed too young skewing for the broadcast network but would hit right into the millennial demo target of sibling Freeform. Speculation about the comedy migrating to Freeform surfaced a couple of weeks ago, and I hear the move is now close to reality.
The script for the backdoor pilot episode was written by Barris and former Black-ish showrunner Larry Wilmore who is no longer involved in the project. Chris Parnell, Matt Walsh and young actor Trevor Jackson co-starred (Walsh as a guest star because of his regular duties on Veep, so he may have to be recast).
Black-ish is following in the footsteps of the hit 1980s NBC family sitcom, The Cosby Show, which similarly spun off the Huxtables’ daughter Denise, played by Lisa Bonet, into her own series, A Different World, when she went to college.
As for pilots migrating to sister networks with series orders, that happened with Ringer, which went from CBS to the CW, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which was piloted at Showtime and picked up to series by the CW.
Black-ish, now in its third season, is fully expected to be renewed for a fourth season based on its critical acclaim, solid ratings and off-network and SVOD sales for ABC Studios.
Now the comedy series also may be launching a franchise spanning two networks and multiple generations.