After intense negotiations, ABC has closed a deal with 20th Century Fox TV for the pickup to series of two comedy pilots, multi-camera Cristela, starring Cristela Alonzo, and Nahnatchka Khan’s single-camera Fresh Off The Boat, as well as the fourth season renewal of comedy series Last Man Standing starring Tim Allen. The holdup had been a request from the network for a license fee reduction on Last Man Standing, something 20th had already agreed last season for what was supposed to be a one-time thing and was unwilling to do it again. The studio had leverage with Cristela and Fresh Off The Boat, which ABC was looking to pick up. After some back-and-forth, a deal has been reached, with all three shows safely on ABC’s schedule next season. Both Cristela and Fresh Off the Boat reflect the immigrant experiences of their creators, Cristela Alonzo, who co-wrote the script with Kevin Hench, and Khan, who based her show on Chef Eddie Huang’s memoir. (Both Khan and Alonzo are first generation Americans.) Both Cristela and Last Men Standing hail from 21 Laps/Adelstein.
This is a fairytale ending for Alonzo’s Cristela, which had been a true Cinderella story this season. It was sold to ABC last summer with penalty. But with several high-profile multi-camera sitcoms landing pilot orders at the network, including two from 20th TV – The Winklers starring Henry Winkler, and Kevin Hart’s Keep It Together – Cristela didn’t make the cut. However, 20th TV brass and 21 Laps/Adelstein, led by Becky Clements, took the $500,000 penalty, a fraction of what a normal pilot costs, and used it to shoot a presentation with ABC’s blessing (the network called it “proof of concept”). Cristela ended up filming a full-length pilot on the stage of Last Man Standing using that sitcom’s crew, led by director/co-exec producer John Pasquin, with two days of rehearsal and prep time, doing the blocking in a windowless room using paper plates and metal chairs. Cristela, originally not even budgeted to get a testing or a photo shoot, tested through the roof, with Alonzo, who has no previous acting experience, scoring higher than Allen, New Girl’s Zooey Deschanel and The Crazy Ones’ Robin Williams. What’s more, Cristela snagged the only multi-camera comedy pickup at ABC for 20th TV, edging The Winklers and Keep It Together.
A fourth season renewal for Last Man would help 20th TV sibling Twentieth TV, which had been shopping the comedy for a syndication sale. 20th TV is heading into next season with the most diverse slate of new shows — it has hip-hop drama Empire at Fox, which has a largely Black cast, the Latino-themed Cristela and Asian American-focused Fresh Off the Boat. Here are descriptions of the newly picked up series:
In her sixth year of law school, Cristela (Cristela Alonzo) is finally on the brink of landing her first big (unpaid) internship at a prestigious law firm. The only problem is that her pursuit of success is more ambitious than her traditional Mexican-American family thinks is appropriate. She’s stuck straddling the old culture she’s trying to modernize at home with her working-class family and the modern world she’s trying to embrace in her professional career. Breakout comedian Cristela Alonzo stars in this hilarious comedy about laughing your way down the path to the new American dream.
“Cristela” stars Cristela Alonzo as Cristela, Carlos Ponce as Felix, Terri Hoyos as Natalia, Andrew Leeds as Josh and Sam McMurray as Trent.
“Cristela” is written by Cristela Alonzo and Kevin Hench. Executive Producers are Kevin Hench, Marty Adelstein, Becky Clements and Shawn Levy. “Cristela” is produced by 20th Century Fox Television.
FRESH OFF THE BOAT
It’s the 90s and 12 year old, hip-hop loving Eddie (Hudson Yang) just moved to suburban Orlando from DC’s Chinatown with his parents (Randall Park and Constance Wu). It’s culture shock for his immigrant family in this comedy about pursuing the American Dream. “Fresh Off the Boat” is based on Chef Eddie Huang’s memoir Fresh Off the Boat.
“Fresh Off the Boat” stars Randall Park as Louis, Constance Wu as Jessica, Hudson Yang as Eddie, Forrest Wheeler as Emery and Ian Chen as Evan.
“Fresh Off the Boat” is executive produced and written by Nahnatchka Kahn and executive produced by Jake Kasdan for 20th Century Fox Television.