June 30 marked the deadline for TV studios to pick up the options on the casts of broadcast pilots and series whose fate was still in limbo. Good news for fans of Fox’s midseason comedy Breaking In: The options on the series’ actors have been picked up until Nov. 15. And, in a rare move, I hear the network, Fox, has pitched in, splitting the cost of the option extension with producing studio Sony Pictures TV. Fox’s decision to cancel the Christian Slater-starring comedy after a brief midseason run was one of the biggest surprises this past upfront season.
Among the pilots left in contention for midseason, Fox’s comedies Little In Common and Family Album remain in the running for Fox’s two-hour, four-show midseason Tuesday comedy block. But both projects will undergo some tweaking as reflected in their producing studios’ decision to pick up only parts of their casts.
In the case of Rob Thomas’ single-camera comedy Little In Common, produced by WBTV, departing are two adult leads, Paula Marshall and Lombardo Boyar, as well as one of the kids. The original pilot was about three families united through their kids’ Little League sports. It centered on the Wellers (Rob Corddry, Marshall), who move from San Jose, Calif., to Austin, Texas, but find that their adjustment won’t be quite that easy considering their Latino neighbors, the Pachecos (Alana Ubach, Lombardo Boyar), have a radically different approach to child-rearing than they do, while their other new neighborhood acquaintances, the African American Burlesons (Kevin Hart, Gabrielle Union), take sports very seriously. I hear in the reworked version, Ubach’s character will be single, while Marshall and the kid will be recast.
On the single-camera Family Album, from 20th TV and 21 Laps/Adelstein Prods., picked up are three actors: the two leads (Mike O’Malley and Rachel Harris) as well as standout supporting player Rob Huebel. The project, from Joe Port and Joe Wiseman, centers on a passionate, overly enthusiastic former jock (O’Malley) who, determined to get some quality family time, embarks on a vacation with his extended family. Harris plays his wife, Huebel his brother. The project, which received an order for another pilot, is undergoing redevelopment as it is focusing on the family’s daily life as chronicled in random family photos.
Another family comedy pilot which was hot in the weeks leading to the upfronts, ABC’s Smothered, is not going forward. ABC had been high on the multicamera project starring Marcia Gay Harden, Julie White, Adam Arkin and John C. McGinley and, while it didn’t make the cut in May, the network said back then it was keeping it in midseason consieration.
Meanwhile, another multicamera half-hour pilot, CBS’ workplace Peter Knight comedy, from Sony TV, CBS Studios and Happy Madison, is very much alive for midseason after the studio picked up the options on the cast. It was one of two comedies CBS kept in contention in May. The other, the Rob Schneider sitcom, has since received an order for a new pilot and backup scripts.
On the hourlong side, the one project that had been eyed for midseason redevelopment, Fox’s Exit Strategy, is now dead after the producers determined that, even with tweaks, the project won’t be very different than the original pilot they delivered and opted to focus on new development instead.