The move was somewhat surprising. While Guess Who Died flew largely under the radar during pilot season, NBC went aggressively after the project last summer. The script was a favorite of the network’s top brass who only a couple of weeks ago flew 95-year-old Lear in by helicopter to the company’s retreat where they praised the pilot, I hear.
I hear there has been incoming outside interest in Guess Who Died in the past few weeks. For instance, I hear there is excitement about the project at YouTube Red, though they have not seen the pilot yet as it just got the pass at NBC.
Guess Who Died stars Hector Elizondo, Holland Taylor, Christopher Lloyd, Beth Lacke and Adrian Martinez. Elizondo already has a deal to reprise his role in the Last Man Standing revival on Fox. His casting is in second position to Guess Who Died which has until June 30 to find a new home before the cast’s options expire.
Guess Who Died was one of four projects Sony TV had in contention at NBC, along with the Bad Boys offshoot pilot LA’s Finest, which also got a surprising pass, as well as series The Blacklist and Timeless, which are waiting on a renewal decision.
Fox ended up picking up their retirement home comedy pilot, The Cool Kids. We will see if Lear and Tolan’s Guess Who Died will be able to find a home too.
Based on Lear’s personal experiences and in partnership with Tolan, Guess Who Died is described as a humorous and inspiring look at the shared joys and challenges we all experience at any stage of life.
Lear wrote the initial version of project about eight years ago and had been trying to get it made ever since. In a 2016 NYT documentary, which featured Lear as he was casting the project, he calls it “a show about the elderly that nobody wants.” A reading of his script was held at the 2016 at the Austin Film Festival.
“The right people read it, the right people thought it’s funny, but the right people said it’s not our demographic,” Lear says in the documentary, lamenting TV networks’ obsession with younger demos. “I wrote it because we are so underrepresented.”