CBS sprung into action today with its first traditional pilot orders, which went to two projects with big commitments: a multi-camera comedy starring stand-up Tommy Johnagin and executive produced by Bill Lawrence and a drama from longtime Grey’s Anatomy executive producers Tony Phelan & Joan Rater and Elementary executive producers Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly. (CBS also has in the works a Criminal Minds planted spinoff.)
The comedy, which hails from Warner Bros. TV, had a pilot production commitment, while the drama, from CBS’ sister studio, had a put pilot commitment.
The untitled Tommy Johnagin project was written by Johnagin and Surviving Jack and S#*! My Dad Says creators Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker. It stars Johnagin as a stand-up comic raising a family in a small Midwestern town. Until he moved to Los Angeles four years ago, Illinois-born Johnagin lived in southern Illinois and St. Louis, launching and building his career from there. Halpern, Schumacker and Doozer’s Lawrence and Jeff Ingold executive produce, with Johnagin co-executive producing for WBTV and Lawrence’s studio-based Doozer banner.
The pickup of the untitled Tommy Johnagin project is a nod to the storied TV tradition of comedians headlining comedy series inspired by their stand-up, which has produced such mega hits as Cosby, Roseanne, Home Improvement, Seinfeld and Everybody Loves Raymond. CBS has been consistent in looking to launch another comedy fronted by a stand-up, ordering a Jim Gaffigan pilot the last two seasons.
Halpern and Schumacker also have a pilot production commitment from ABC for multi-camera family comedy Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth, and Doozer has multiple other projects in play.
This marks the first pilot order for Johnagin who had a semi-autobiographical starring vehicle in the works at NBC in 2012, and last year he developed a comedy at USA Network.
Phelan and Rater wrote and executive produce their untitled drama project, from CBS TV Studios and studio-based Timberman-Beverly Prods. It centers on a smart, chic, successful defense lawyer at a boutique firm who shockingly gets involved romantically with one of her clients who may or may not be guilty of a brutal crime. Timberman and Beverly also executive produce.
Phelan and Rater are currently consulting producers on CBS/CBS Studios’ Madam Secretary as part of their overall deal at the studio, which they inked last year. The pair served as executive producers on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy for 10 seasons. Previously, Phelan and Rater co-produced NBC’s Law & Order: Trial By Jury.
CBS is looking to pick up 8-9 pilots each on the comedy and drama side. The network joins NBC and Fox in ordering pilots, while ABC and the CW are yet to make a move.
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