EXCLUSIVE: This is certain to be the most talked about project this broadcast development season. Fox has given a big put pilot commitment to a single-camera comedy from Modern Family executive producer Danny Zuker and producers Trevor Engelson (Snowfall), Jake Kasdan (New Girl) and Dan Farah (The Shannara Chronicles).
It is the untitled project’s premise that will get attention on both sides of the Atlantic: Divorce is hard. Sharing custody is harder. Sharing custody with the British Royal family when your wife marries a prince, in the unforgiving spotlight of London’s tabloid media, is next level.
That is because Engelson is the ex-husband of actress Meghan Markle who has been dating Britain’s Prince Harry.
It should be noted that the comedy is fictional, the lead characters are not based on Markle or Engelson, who have no kids together, and she has had no involvement in the project. Still, it is fair to say that the show was inspired by real-life events.
The comedy originated with Engelson and fellow producer Farah who, in a conversation, mused about what would’ve been if Engelson and Markle had kids and he had to share custody with the British Royal family one day. The two liked the idea as a potential TV series which they pitched to WME. The agency packaged it up to sell to 20th TV with studio-based clients; Modern Family executive producer Danny Zuker, who was brought on to write, producer-director Jake Kasdan and his producing partner Melvin Mar, and British TV director Christine Gernon (Speechless) who was tapped to direct.
There was a lot of curiosity about the project among the broadcast networks, which wanted to hear the pitch. 20th TV sibling Fox, which had first dibs, bought the comedy on the spot with what is believed to be the biggest commitment for a comedy pitch at the network so far this season.
Zuker executive produces with Engelson via Underground, Farah via Farah Films, Kasdan, Mar and Gernon.
Gernon has been a fixture at 20th TV for the past couple of years, directing episodes of New Girl, Fresh Off the Boat and The Grinder. The studio gave Gernon her first U.S. pilot directing gig with ABC’s Speechless. It went to series, on which Gernon serves as director/co-executive producer.
Kasdan and Mar serve as executive producers on all four series Gernon has directed, Speechless, FOTB, New Girl and The Grinder.
Engelson has two series on the air that he exec produces, drama Snowfall at FX, which has been renewed for a second season, and the upcoming Paramount Network dramedy Heathers. He is currently in production ion the Netflix movie The After Party. Farah’s TV series credits include Famous In Love and The Shannara Chronicles. On the film side he produces the upcoming Ready Player One.
Zuker has been one of the key writer-producers on 20th TV’s Emmy-winning ABC comedy series Modern Family, which he joined after the pilot.