Rob McElhenney & Rob Rosell Comedy Nears Fox Pilot Order As Network Preps For Pilot Season Amid Disney Deal

Courtesy of Fox

Not since former Fox chairman Kevin Reilly proclaimed in 2014 that the network was abandoning pilot season has there been so much interest in Fox’s pilot and series pickup decisions, in light of the broadcast net’s pending separation from its top supplier, 20th Century Fox TV, as part of the proposed Disney-Fox deal.

“It is going to be a regular pilot season,” Fox Entertainment president Michael Thorn told Deadline, echoing the comments made by his bosses, Fox chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman, on the TCA stage earlier today. “We have already started to discuss a couple of scripts.”

One of them is a multi-camera family comedy written by It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Rob McElhenney and Rob Rosell. The project from 20th TV already has hired a casting director, and a search is underway for an actress to play the lead female character. “There is no offer yet, but I expect to have one very soon so we get a jump on casting,” Thorn said.

The Rosell/McElhenny comedy was bought as a pitch with a big pilot production commitment and had been expected to go to pilot. It would be Fox’s second multi-camera comedy pilot, along with Cool Kids, which has been shot and is expected to be delivered next week. Both hail from Sunny’s Charlie Day, McElhenney and Glenn Howerton.

“There is another multi-camera project we are really passionate about, it’s from Jerrod Carmichael and starring Lil Rel Howrey,” Thorn said. Written/executive produced by Josh Rabinowitz & Kevin Barnett and Howrey, the untitled comedy centers on Lil Rel, a prideful, self-made success who tries to rebuild his life post-divorce as a long-distance single father.

Multi-camera comedies are a priority for Fox, which abandoned the multi-cam space a couple of years ago. “I believe in them, we all believe in them, and to find one that has a signature Fox bold character at the center would be great,” Thorn said.


Fox is expected to pick up the same number of pilots as last year — about six comedies and six dramas, not including off-cycle fantasy drama pilot Passage, which is eyeing reshoots.

“It’s business as usual,” Thorn said, repeating a line Walden and Newman used multiple times doing Fox’s executive session when asked about the impact of the pending Disney acquisition of Fox assets, including 20th TV.

Because selling started very late this season, Thorn expects pilot orders to be done at the end of January. The bulk of Fox’s development is from sister studio 20th TV, and that should carry over to the network’s pilots, Thorn said, despite the fact that the network and studio are headed for separation once the Disney deal is completed. There are also a few outside projects Fox brass have been high on, including dramas from Warner Bros. TV, Sony TV and Universal TV.

Ownership won’t play a role in the pilot pickup decisions, Thorn said. “We are going to go for the best comedies and best dramas,” he said.

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