ABC has picked up hot family comedy pilot Speechless to series. Additionally, the network has renewed veteran multi-camera sitcom Last Man Standing for Season 6. Both projects hail from 20th Century Fox TV.
The pickups for Speechless, from Friends alum Scott Silveri, and Last Man Standing were held up by negotiations for in-season stacking rights, which ABC is demanding for all new series. Fellow outside studio Sony TV was engaged in similar talks with ABC, which concluded last night, resulting in pickups of new series Notorious and Imaginary Mary and a renewal for Last Man Standing companion Dr. Ken. It is likely that both studios got renewals for their sitcoms as part of giving the network in-season stacking rights to their new series (plus compensation). Speechless is a co-production between 20th TV and ABC Studios (it originated at 20th TV, with ABCS coming on board as part of a swap, in which 20th TV got a piece of ABC Studios’ Courteney Cox Fox pilot). All Sony TV shows also are co-productions.
Speechless — about a family with a special needs kid — was the Cinderella story this pilot season. The pilot had such difficulty casting the parents that it was on the verge of being scrapped or pushed. Minnie Driver was signed as the mom at the last minute to get the pilot made. She was joined by Big Bang Theory’s John Ross Bowie. But since the table read, the pilot has impressed, surprising expectations as an unlikely frontrunner.
ABC, which has been breaking ground in comedy by getting back African American, Asian American and Latino families back on TV with Black-ish, Fresh Off The Boat, Dr. Ken and Cristela, is making a mark again, with a family that has a special-needs child played by a young actor with special needs. Here is a teaser, followed by more info on the show:
Maya DiMeo (Minnie Driver) is a mom on a mission who will do anything for her husband Jimmy, her kids Ray, Dylan, and JJ, her eldest son with special needs. As Maya fights injustices both real and imagined, the family works to make a new home for themselves, and searches for just the right person to give JJ his “voice.”
The cast includes John Ross Bowie as Jimmy DiMeo, Mason Cook as Ray DiMeo, Micah Fowler as JJ DiMeo, Kyla Kennedy as Dylan DiMeo and Cedric Yarbrough as Kenneth.
Scott Silveri is executive producer of the show, along with Fresh Off the Boat’s Jake Kasdan and Melvin Mar.
Last Man Standing, starring Tim Allen, has been a work horse, serving as a solid 8 PM anchor for the network on the night and a good lead-in for freshman Dr. Ken.
The series stars Allen, Nancy Travis, Molly Ephraim, Kaitlyn Dever, Amanda Fuller, Jordan Masterson, Christophe Sanders, Flynn Morrison, Jonathan Adams and Hector Elizondo. Last Man Standing was created by Jack Burditt and executive-produced by Matt Berry, Tim Allen, Martin Adelstein, Becky Clements, Shawn Levy, Richard Baker, Rick Messina, Kevin Abbott, Kevin Hench, Michael Shipley. 20th TV is the studio.