“This is a classic example of writing what you know,” Modern Family executive producer Danny Zuker says about his new comedy project Family Show, which has landed at ABC with a put pilot commitment.
The single-camera project, from 20th Century Fox TV, is a workplace/family comedy “about the imperfect people who strive to be half as good as the perfect TV family they create every week for America.” Said to be in the vein of The Larry Sanders Show, Family Show will be set behind the scenes of a fictional family sitcom, following crew members on set and at home. Zuker, who has been on Modern Family since after the pilot, will write and executive produce.
The genesis of the idea for Family Show stems from a parenting moment that happened during the second season of Modern Family. One night, shortly after he and his twin teenage daughters had watched a new episode of the ABC comedy, Zuker was grounding one of them, taking away her computer to screams of “You are the worst.” But then, “in a moment of exasperation”, his daughter added a new wrinkle to the typical rebel teenage girl rant. “How can you write such a great dad on the show but can’t be a good dad in real life?” Zuker immediately thought, “That may be a show.”
The sitcom within a sitcom won’t be modeled after Modern Family. As for the characters and events depicted on Family Show, they are not based on Zuker’s experience on Modern Family either, Zuker says. “Modern Family is a very functional place where people get along quite well,” he said. “But I’ve worked on other comedy series before that weren’t that functional, so I’ll apply some of those experiences and will make stuff up.”
This marks Zuker’s first development since joining Modern Family in 2009. He had previously worked with Modern Family co-creator/executive producer Steve Levitan on Levitan’s workplace NBC comedy Just Shoot Me!, and his resume includes a slew of other sitcom gigs, including a stint on ABC’s Roseanne. On Modern Family, Zuker has shared in the 20th TV-produced series’ five best comedy Emmy Awards.
Family Show stems from a new overall deal 20th TV inked last year with Zuker, along with pacts locking in a couple of other Modern Family executive producers, including Paul Corrigan & Brad Walsh who also had been on Modern Family since the very beginning. Corrigan and Walsh just sold single-camera comedy Workplace to CBS with a put pilot commitment.
For Zuker, repped by CAA and Jeanne Newman, Modern Family has somewhat mirrored his family dynamic as the show’s teen co-stars, Ariel Winter, Rico Rodriguez and Nolan Gould all are the same age as his own daughters, 17.
“It’s been fun to watch the kids who make me money and the kids who cost me money grow up at the same time,” Zuker quipped. His girls heading to college next fall may make working on Family Show a little easier, should it go to series. “When they yell at me for putting their lives on screen, they’ll be far away.”