ABC scheduled only an afternoon at TCA, bailing on having an executive panel because, a network rep said on stage, they had an earnings report coming out today and “thought it best not to have an executive session compete.”
Instead, ABC’s first panel, Single Parents competed with news creator Liz Meriwether had extended her overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV for another year.
Meriwether created, wrote and executive produced all seven seasons of Fox’s New Girl, which has been one of 20th Century Fox TV’s most successful comedy series of the past decade with a lucrative SVOD deal. She also co-created with Lake Bell 20th Century Fox TV-produced off-cycle Fox pilot Bless This Mess, which has been heating up for midseason consideration.
The extension keeps Meriwether in the 20th TV fold as the company transitions from 21st Century Fox to ABC parent Disney as part of the pending mega acquisition.
Meriwether teamed with one of New Girl’s long-time writers, J.J. Philbin, on Single Parents, which went to ABC, Meriwether told TV critics, because “ABC has such amazing comedies about family and we felt like this was a great home for it.”
Minutes later she reiterated “ABC felt like the right home for a family show,“ but noted it’s been scheduled for 9:30 “so its basically cable. I mean you might see some legs!”
“Only in prison,” Brad Garrett said, when asked if he ever had sung Disney tunes before being cast in this series. He described his Douglas character as a “strong cup of coffee”; he’s a widower, after losing his exotic-dancer wife. “Some accident on the pole,” he quipped, adding, “They say ‘play what you know’.”
“I love playing someone who has a little bit of edge” Garret said, calling the character said “maybe the most together person I have played.”
Garrett also seems to be the only person on stage who is/has been a single parent. “I’m a single parent – the rest of you: give it time,” he snarked.
“You don’t plan on being a single parent. My marriage cut into my wife’s dating..The toughest thing is co-parenting.”
As a single parent, he said, you’re thrown into a social group according to who your kids hang out with and you don’t necessarily have a lot in common with.”
“They aren’t necessarily people you would be friends with if you could choose your friends,” Meriwether said. Philbin likened it to people “in a foxhole together trying to get through the day.”
The series begins when the group meets Will (Taran Killam), a 30-something guy who’s been so focused on raising his daughter that he’s lost sight of who he is as a man. When the other single parents see just how far down the rabbit hole of PTA, parenting and princesses Will has gone, they band together to get him out in the dating world. Will is written to his strengths, Killam said: “being an idiot and wearing my heart on my sleeve.”
He was excited at the prospect of working with the New Girl writers after guesting on that Fox comedy. “They are great joke writers and it’s an exciting challenge for me to be the same character week in and out,” he said.
He echoed Meriwether’s assurances the comedy will be “edgy,” reiterating it’s airing at 9:30 PM.
Killam said he has not heard from Lorne Michaels congratulating him “but he’s a very busy man.”
Asked if he was looking for a series like this after SNL, Killiam responded, “SNL was so all-consuming you’re literally living day to day.” But, “as soon as I was off the show, a project like this is exactly what I was looking for,” he enthused.