EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situation with multiple bidders, Fox has handed a put pilot commitment with a big penalty to Football Book Club, a multi-camera comedy from Robert Horn and Scott Ellis, the duo behind the Tootsie Broadway musical, former New England Patriots wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment and Warner Bros. TV.
Written by Horn and to be directed by Ellis, Football Book Club is inspired by Mitchell’s experiences. In the comedy, when a career-threatening injury sidelines professional football wide receiver Lawrence Lasalle, a trip to an Athens, Georgia, bookshop unexpectedly lands him as the only male in an all-female Southern book club, started by recent suburban widow Nancy Leverett, looking to reconnect with life. These two opposite lives collide at a time of major transition for both, as a surprising relationship forms over beginnings, Beaujolais and books, bonding a group of opinionated Southern women with an all-star athlete from an entirely different walk of life and with an entirely different social perspective.
Horn and Ells executive produce alongside Mitchell, Kaplan and Dana Honor of Kapital Entertainment, Jeff Holland, Stan Spry and Drew Brown of The Cartel. WBTV co-produces with Fox Entertainment.
The plot of Football Book Club mirrors the story of Mitchell while he was a star University of Georgia football player, which was subject of a CBS News piece. (you can watch it below). After college, the Georgia native was drafted by the New England Patriots. In his first season, Mitchell was part of the Patriots team that won Super Bowl LI in 2017, which aired on Fox, one of the broadcast homes of the NFL.
Right after that, he was sidelined with a knee injury which ultimately forced him to retire this past spring at the age of 25.
Horn and Ellis recently teamed up on the Broadway adaptation of Tootsie. Horn wrote the book and Ellis directed the musical, which earned 11 Tony nominations earlier this year, including Book of a Musical for Horn and Direction of a Musical for Ellis. Horn was among the two Tootsie Tony winners, along with star Santino Fontana.
In TV, Ellis received an Emmy nomination for directing 30 Rock. He recently worked with Kapital on the CBS multi-camera comedy series Fam, helming the pilot and multiple episodes. Horn co-created the FX comedy series Partners.
At Fox, Kapital Entertainment also has a script commitment plus penalty for drama Stateside, from The Enemy Within writer-producer Tony Camerino and Royal Pains creator Andrew Lenchewski; and has in the works Sanchez, Ohio (working title), a multi-camera/hybrid comedy written by Isaac Gonzalez & Chris Case and directed by Victor Gonzalez.Additionally, the company has a script-plus-penalty development deal with Fox that includes one additional backup script for Pivoting, a single-camera comedy from writer Liz Astrof.