EXCLUSIVE: In a high-profile late buy, Fox has given a pilot production commitment to a single-camera comedy from New Girl creator Liz Meriwether, which has actress/filmmaker Lake Bell attached to star, co-write and direct.

Written by Meriwether and Bell, Bless This Mess centers on a newlywed couple — half of it played by Bell — that gives up their drab and unfulfilling lives in NYC and moves to Nebraska to live a simpler life. It doesn’t work out like they planned.

Meriwether and Bell executive produce with New Girl executive producer and frequent Meriwether collaborator Katherine Pope. 20th Century Fox TV, where Meriwether is under an overall deal, is the studio.

The project reunites Bell with Meriwether and Fox/20th TV after guest starring on New Girl.

This is only the second comedy pilot production commitment at Fox this year, along with a family comedy from Rob McElhenney and Rob Rosell. Both are intended to go to pilot and join the recently greenlighted off-cycle comedy pilot Cool Kids.

Fox
Fox

Bless This Mess shares some of the DNA of Meriwether’s single-camera Fox comedy New Girl, which also was toplined by an indie darling, Zoey Deschanel.

New Girl remains Fox’s most successful live-action comedy of the past decade. A breakout hit when it premiered in fall 2011, New Girl is heading into its seventh and final season. The quirky series also has been a lucrative property for 20th TV as it has a rich SVOD deal with Netflix in addition to broadcast and cable syndication pacts. Last year, Meriwether, who was behind Fox’s comedy pilot Thin Ice last year, is repped by WME, Rise Management and attorney Jeff Frankel.

Actress Bell successful branched out into writing/directing, with her feature debut In a Word…  earning her a Sundance screenwriting award. Her followup, I Do… Until I Don’t, was released last month. In TV as an actress, Boston Legal and How To Make It In America alumna Bell recently appeared in Netflix’s Wet Hot American Summer series. Behind the camera, she directed episodes of Hulu’s Casual. Bell is repped by UTA and attorney P.J. Shapiro.