ABC is in negotiations with Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) to headline Motherland, a comedy pilot based on the British series. Karan Soni (Deadpool franchise) has been tapped for a lead in the project, from writer Julieanne Smolinski, Sharon Horgan and Clelia Mountford’s Merman Television, Paul Feig’s Feigco Entertainment, Lionsgate and ABC Signature. Michael Showalter (The Big Sick) has come on board to direct.
Written by Smolinski, Motherland centers on Julia (the role Kemper has been in talks for over the past several weeks), a working mom for whom nothing is working so she goes looking for her village. With the help of new friends Calvin (Soni) and Liz, Julia discovers she just might succeed at balancing work and parenting from time to time. This is a comedy for anybody who’s dropped their kids at school, breathed a sigh of relief…then realized it’s Sunday.
Showalter and Smolinski executive produce alongside Horgan, Mountford, Stacy Greenberg and Kira Carstensen for Merman Television, Paul Feig and Dan Magnante for Feigco Entertainment as well as Holly Walsh and Helen Serafinowicz.
RELATED: 2023 ABC Pilots & Series Orders
The original series is set in a middle-class suburb of London. It stars Anna Maxwell Martin (MGM+’s A Spy Among Friends) as the disorganized Julia, Diane Morgan (Netflix’s Cunk on Earth) as single mother Liz and Paul Ready as stay-at-home dad Kevin Brady. The trio are a group of misfits parents, joined in later seasons by Tanya Moodie’s crazy working mum Meg, fighting against the mean girls including Lucy Punch’s Amanda, while dealing with school politics.
Like its U.S. remake, Motherland originated as a comedy pilot that aired on BBC 2 in 2016, before airing its first full season in 2017. The second season premiered in 2019, the third season began in 2021, and it also has had a pair of Christmas specials. The series was created by Horgan, Walsh, Serafinowicz and Graham Linehan and is produced by Horgan’s Merman.
Kemper headlined the Netflix comedy series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, earning two Emmy nominations. She recently co-hosted The Great American Baking Show on Roku Channel and starred in the Disney+ feature Home Sweet Home Alone. Kemper, who next will be starring in the Netflix rom-com Happiness for Beginners, is repped by WME, Mosaic and Hansen Jacobson Teller.
Best known for his role as Dopinder in the Deadpool films, Soni recently appeared in films The People We Hate at the Wedding and Four Samosas and also stars in the TBS comedy Miracle Workers, which returns for its fourth season this year. The actor, who was just cast in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse as Spider-Man India, is repped by CAA and 3 Arts Entertainment.
Showalter’s recent series credits include The Dropout, which earned him an Emmy nomination; The Shrink Next Door; and I Love That for You\. He’s repped by UTA, Artists First and Goodman Genow.
Peter White contributed to this report.
Must Read Stories
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.