CBS kicked off its pilot pickup season today with a order to Taxi-22, a single-camera comedy that had been shepherded by the late James Gandolfini. CBS bought the project, with Gandolfini on board to executive produce, in early June, just two weeks before the Emmy-winning actor’s tragic death. Taxi-22, an adaptation of the hit French Canadian single-camera comedy, had been a passion project for Gandolfini, who first developed it at HBO where his Attaboy banner had a deal. The project went through three incarnations at the pay cable network with different writers and Gandolfini loosely attached to play the lead at one point. When the project, about a misanthropic and politically incorrect NYC cab driver in the vein of Archie Bunker, was sold to CBS in June, there was no writer attached, with Gandolfini executive producing alongside Dennis Erdman and Clark Peterson, the original series’ creator/star, top Canadian comedian Patrick Huard, his producing partner François Flamand, as well as Gandolfini’s managers, Nancy Sanders and Mark Armstrong. (Erdman and Peterson had licensed the format rights from Huard and Flamand and brought the project to Gandolfini.) When Gandolfini died, the project’s team was “devastated” but decided to carry on, Peterson told me back then. “I can confirm that the development of Taxi-22 will continue, but we’ll always be flying in the missing-man formation,” he said. Gandolfini’s executive producer spot on the show has remained empty, with everyone else on board for the pilot, along with veteran comedy writer Tad Quill who was brought in over the summer as writer/executive producer. CBS TV Studios, where Quill is under an overall deal, is producing. One of the other TV projects Gandolfini left behind, HBO limited series Criminal Justice, also is going forward with Robert De Niro stepping in to play Gandolfini’s role. At CBS, Taxi-22 joins comedy pilots The McCarthys and untitled Jim Gaffigan, both redeveloped from last season, and the How I Met Your Mother spinoff How I Met Your Dad.
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