Comedy legend Carol Burnett is a step closer to a TV return. ABC has given a pilot green light to Household Name, a multi-camera comedy starring Burnett, written/executive produced by Michael Saltzman and executive produced by Amy Poehler through her Paper Kite banner. Universal TV, where Paper Kite is based, is the studio. ABC landed the project in October with a put pilot commitment in a competitive situation.
Household Name is about a family who gets a chance to buy the house of their dreams but under extremely abnormal circumstances: They must live with the current owner, an eccentric, larger-than-life actress (Burnett) — until she dies.
Saltzman executive produces with Paper Kite’s Poehler and Brooke Posch, 3 Arts’ Dave Becky and The Nacelle Company’s Michael Pelmont.
Burnett has earned 22 Emmy nominations, winning six over a span of five decades. Her Carol Burnett Show ran for 11 years, landing a best variety-comedy series Emmy nomination for each of those seasons and winning three times.
This marks a return to multi-camera comedy for Saltzman, who was an executive producer on Murphy Brown and The Naked Truth before segueing to dramas in recent years with stints on AMC’s Mad Men, Hell on Wheels and Halt and Catch Fire.
There is a personal story behind Saltzman’s collaboration with Burnett, which stems from a meeting when he was trying to break into television as a writer and Burnett “offered praise and encouragement, which by itself was amazing, but she then elevated things to a truly surreal level when she presented a check with no contract or conditions,” Saltzman said. “Her only instruction was to write anything — a play, a musical, a TV show, a movie, a poem. It didn’t matter. She just wanted to give someone she believed in their start.” You can read more about the project’s backstory in our original story on the pitch sale.
Saltzman wrote a pilot that would mark both Burnett’s return to TV series and her sitcom-starring debut. “To be able to provide her with an opportunity to ‘play in the sandbox’ again, as she’s fond of saying, is not only an unbelievable thrill but a great honor and responsibility,” he said. “She’s not only one of the most brilliant and beloved comediennes to ever appear on television, she’s also a very gifted dramatic actress. So, my goal is to hopefully give her material that will allow her to showcase all her talents and range, and, just as importantly, to create an environment she’ll enjoy and have fun creating and playing in, like she had on her original show. It’s every writer’s dream to write for such a talented and funny actress, and it’s a fulfillment of a lifelong fantasy for me, personally.”
While presenting Burnett with a SAG Lifetime Achievement Award last year, Poehler spoke of the enormous influence Burnett had had on her and fellow performer Tina Fey. “We watched Carol with our moms, and our moms taught us 90 percent of what we needed to know to be the kind of women that we are today, and the other 10 percent is Carol,” Poehler said.
Burnett is repped by ICM Partners and Steve Sauer. Saltzman is repped by Scott Schwartz of Vision Art Management and The Nacelle Company. Poehler is repped by WME, 3 Arts and attorney Warren Dern.