Former Friends writer-producer Ira Ungerleider has closed a deal to serve as showrunner on another ensemble relationship NBC comedy that has “friends” in the title, midseason series Friends With Benefits. On the single-camera comedy, from 20th TV and Imagine TV, Ungerleider will serve as executive producer alongside the pilot’s director David Dobkin, writers Scott Neustadter and Mike Weber, as well as Brian Grazer, David Nevins and Jeff Kleeman. Additionally, Ungerleider’s deal with 20th TV is said to include a significant blind script commitment. Ungerleider, who created the NBC series Jesse, most recently served as executive producer/showrunner on CBS’ Gary Unmarried. He is repped by UTA and attorney Don Wallerstein.
It’s been a strong upfront for Friends alumni. Former executive producers Shana Goldberg-Meehan and Scott Silveri both landed new series. Goldberg-Meehan’s ABC comedy Better Together in particular is becoming a big Friends reunion. Goldberg-Meehan is executive producing/co-showrunning it with ex-Friends exec producer Greg Malins, while another former Friends exec producer, Adam Chase, serves as a co-executive producer. Meanwhile, Silveri co-created and is executive producing NBC’s Perfect Couples with Jon Pollack who didn’t work on Friends but served as an exec producer on its spinoff Joey. Additionally, Friends co-star Matthew Perry is back with a new comedy series, Mr. Sunshine, on ABC. And Friends co-creator David Crane is behind the new Showtime series Episodes, which stars Matt LeBlanc.