8:30am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Shaquille O'Neal to Star in Scripted Comedy for TruTV
TruTV is pushing into scripted fare with former NBA great Shaquille O'Neal.
The former All-Star will star in a workplace comedy pilot called Shaq Inq., loosely based on his business empire, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The comedy is inspired by the wild and frenetic business O'Neal has built following his 19-year career.
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The half-hour comedy will follow O'Neal and the team who runs his sprawling business empire. The offbeat, yet capable group juggles the mayhem of managing his existing products and endorsements while implementing his latest batch of sometimes eccentric business ideas. But while they're all working toward the same goal, each employee is constantly jockeying for the power and recognition to make the big guy proud.
Jeremy Garelick (The Wedding Ringer, The Break-Up) will pen the script, while John Fortenberry (Galavant) will direct. O'Neal will executive produce alongside Mike Tollin (Smallville, Arli$$). The comedy hails from Tollin and Peter Guber's Mandalay Sports Media, founded in 2012 and specializing in sports programming including Undrafted, Sin City Saints and its upcoming Kareem Abdul-Jabbar documentary. Perry Rogers, Colin Smeeton and Michael Parris are on board to produce. Dan Kaplow (Trophy Wife, Sin City Saints) and Jon Weinbach (The Other Dream Team) will co-executive produce.
"Shaquille and I have been friends for 20 years, and his growth as a businessman never ceases to amaze and amuse me," Tollin said.
Added TruTV president and head of programming Chris Linn: "There is no denying Shaq's multifaceted appeal. Thus, we couldn't be happier to be collaborating with him, as well as Mike Tollin and Mandalay Sports Media, as we continue to push into new formats."
Shaq Inq. expands O'Neal's relationship with Turner-owned TruTV, where he currently hosts viral video prank show Upload With Shaquille O'Neal. It's also O'Neal's latest acting endeavor following movies Steel, Blue Chips and Kazaam, among other film and TV roles including many where he played himself. He's also an NBA analyst for TNT.
TruTV becomes the latest cable network to push into scripted originals, following Bravo (Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce), WEtv (The Divide) and E! (The Royals).