EXCLUSIVE: Emmy winner Patricia Heaton is eying a return to television with a multi-camera comedy that has received a script-to-series commitment at Fox. Heaton is set to star in and executive produce the untitled project, which is produced by Fox Entertainment and Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment. The project reunites Heaton and Kaplan who worked together on the CBS comedy series Carol’s Second Act.
Search is underway for a writer to pen the comedy, which will be set in Nashville and, if picked up to series, would be entirely produced in Music City where both Heaton and Kapital have strong ties. Heaton currently splits her time between Los Angeles and Nashville, while Kapital operates stages in the city where it shot its Kevin Williamson CBS All Access series Tell Me a Story.
The plan is for the city of Nashville to serve as the series’ backlot with some location shoots outside of the studio giving the show a hybrid multi-/single-camera feel in the vein of How I Met Your Mother.
Heaton and David Hunt will executive produce under their FourBoys Entertainment banner along with Adam Griffin as well as Kaplan and Michael Lohmann for Kapital Entertainment. Jessie Abbott is the executive in charge for Kapital.
“I’m looking forward to working with Fox on this series,” Heaton said. “I have gotten to know and love Nashville over the years while visiting my son and my sister there. It’s a wonderful city with an incredible quality of life, along with a vibrant culture and so much creative energy. I want to help support and grow the entertainment production business there and shooting a TV series in Nashville would provide hundreds of jobs for local cast and crew.”
The series will fall under the script-to-series model that Fox has been increasingly employing over the past year as part of the network’s reassessment of the development process last summer. That has led to a diversified approach involving a mix of traditional pilots, lower-cost presentations, script-to-series projects that could include writers rooms, as well as straight-to-series orders. It marks Kapital’s second straight-to-series commitment at Fox, joining an hourlong anthology series from 1980s music star Huey Lewis and Hart of Dixie creator Leila Gerstein. At the network, Kapital has two upcoming series: live-action comedy Pivoting and animated Housebroken.
The Heaton comedy will be shot under a new cost-effective production model developed by Kapital that the company recently applied to its upcoming high-profile ABC limited series Women Of the Movement, which was filmed in Memphis, TN and in Mississippi. It is being shepherded by Lohmann, Kapital’s head of production. The model also fits into Fox Entertainment’s efforts to produce series, especially live-action comedies, more efficiently.
“Patricia is an incredible talent who is comedy royalty; and the opportunity to partner with her on this project was too good to pass up,” said Michael Thorn, President of Entertainment of Fox Entertainment, which will fully own the series. “We firmly believe in the promise of broadcast comedy and can attain success in the space with new and innovative models that give series more leg room to grow. With Patricia at its core, together with Kapital and Nashville’s efficient infrastructure, this project represents the next step in evolving our live-action comedy strategy and further building Fox’s portfolio of IP.”
Heaton has worked steadily on TV for the past 25 years. She is best known for her nine-season runs as a star of CBS’ Everybody Loves Raymond, which earned her two Primetime Emmy Awards, and ABC’s The Middle. Heaton won a Daytime Emmy Award for her unscripted series Patricia Heaton Parties. She is repped by UTA, Vault Entertainment and Skrzyniarz & Mallean.