Barry Sonnenfeld to helm 'Farsi' comedy

ABC's single-camera project centers on Iranian Americans

Barry Sonnenfeld is taking up Persian at ABC.

The network has handed out a pilot order to the single-camera comedy "Funny in Farsi," with Sonnenfeld on board to direct and executive produce.

Based on Firoozeh Dumas' memoir, the ABC Studios-produced "Farsi" is inspired by the Iranian-born author's experiences growing up in Newport Beach, Calif., during the 1970s. Dumas was 7 when her dad, an engineer, moved her family from Iran to the U.S.

The book was adapted by Jeffrey Hodes and Nastaran Dibai ("According to Jim"), who penned the pilot script.

"Farsi" is the first pilot script to which Sonnenfeld has responded strongly since ABC's "Pushing Daisies," which he directed, winning an Emmy for his work.

Sonnenfeld first spotted "Farsi" last season when ABC gave it a director-contingent pilot order in February, but the network shelved it after the helmer was not available to direct.

The WME-repped Sonnenfeld since has set up shop at ABC, inking a two-year first-look deal last month with the network and ABC Studios. Under the pact, he is expected to direct and executive produce "Farsi" and another pilot for the network, probably a drama.

ABC is not the first broadcast network to take a stab at developing a comedy revolving around Iranian Americans.

During the 2002-03 season, British Iranian comedian Omid Djalili co-penned a sitcom for NBC starring him as an Iranian professor in New York working at his brother's diner, but the start of the Iraq War derailed the project. Djalili, who was under a talent deal with NBC, went on to co-star on the network's comedy "Whoopi."
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