Hybrid live-action/animated comedies have emerged as a hot commodity for next season. Fox is throwing its hat into the ring in a big way with a series order to Son Of Zorn, from Last Man On Earth executive producers Phil Lord & Chris Miller and former Wilfred showrunners Reed Agnew and Eli Jorne. The live-action/animated project, toplined by Jason Sudeikis as the voice of Zorn, is set to debut during the 2016-17 season. Originally given a presentation order in June, Son Of Zorn had been heating up for renewal over the past few weeks as other live-action/animated comedy projects entered the fray for next season.
Son Of Zorn will likely be joined next season by ABC’s Imaginary Gary, a comedy blending live-action and CGI animation from Oscar-winning Disney feature animator Patrick Osborne and The Goldbergs team of Adam F. Goldberg, Happy Madison and Sony Pictures TV. ABC nabbed the project in a very competitive situation with a pilot production order, which has a series penalty attached. Meanwhile, NBC has in development Donuthead, a single-camera comedy, written by Irene Mecchi (Brave, The Lion King) and Bridget Terry and produced by Adam and Naomi Scott that also is said to feature animated elements to illustrate the imagination of the lead character, a boy.
Like Imaginary Friend, Son Of Zorn employs a mix of live-action and animated lead characters. Upon arriving home on Earth for the first time in 10 years, Zorn (Sudeikis), a fully animated, legendary warrior, finds that reconnecting with his live-action son, Alan (Johnny Pemberton), and ex-wife, Edie (Cheryl Hines), while suffering through a mundane office job and the banality of suburban life, is harder than waging actual war in his distant, mystical homeland of Zephyria. Tim Meadows also stars.
“This is utterly unique – there has literally never been a show like this. And, of course, it is very, very funny,” said Fox Entertainment President David Madden. “The fantastically talented duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller are yet again delivering precedent-setting television. Jason Sudeikis makes his animated character sound and feel live-action, and Cheryl, Johnny and Tim have incredible chemistry with him that crosses formats, genres and galaxies.”
Son Of Zorn is produced by 20th Century Fox Television where Miller and Lord are based. Agnew and Jorne wrote the pilot and will serve as showrunners. The two will executive produce alongside Lord, Miller and Seth Cohen. Eric Appel is director and co-executive producer.
On the animated front, Fox is yet to schedule the Seth MacFarlane-produced Bordertown, which was ordered to series two years ago.
With two series already on track for next season, Son Of Zorn and The Last Man On Earth, whose renewal is pretty much a given, Lord and Miller have several other high-profile projects that will seek pilot orders in January, a Greatest American Hero remake written-directed by Rick Famuyiwa, which has a pilot production commitment at Fox, In Time, a time-travel comedy written by Julius Sharpe, which has a put pilot commitment at Fox, and a comedy at NBC from writer John Phillips, which has penalty attached. Additionally, Miller and Lord recently optioned the rights to podcast phenomenon Serial to develop as a TV series through 20th TV’s cable division Fox 21 TV Studios.
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