Irish Studio Prepping Local Version of Comedy Classic 'Cheers'

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LONDON – An Irish language version of the classic US comedy sitcom Cheers is in the works for Dublin-based Sideline Productions.

The Irish production banner inked a deal with Paul Gilbert from CBS in the U.S. to re-version the classic Ted Danson and Shelley Long starrer for Irish language channel TG4.

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The channel's commissioning director Micheal O’Meallaigh is described by Sideline as having been "hugely supportive and across the negotiations from the very start."

The option deal to take the banter, bar and setting from its original home in Boston to a rural Irish bar setting was inked last week.

With a working title of Teach Seán, a reference to changing the original show's lead character Sam Malone to Sean for the Irish outing, the Irish version aims to get casting, re-writing and translation of the scripts underway in January 2013.

Sideline creative director and former RTE commissioning editor for entertainment Billy McGrath told The Hollywood Reporter the focus would be on the first two seasons of the show "with a view of re-writing and re-versioning 10 to 12 episodes set in a picturesque town in the West of Ireland."

Sideline will then submit the proposal along with TG4 into Ireland's TV funding round in late January.

McGrath said if that proved successful "we will shoot in late 2013 with transmission set for early January 2014.

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The Irish version is likely to see character Malone's past changed from being a former baseball star to an Irish sport and also promises localized versions of Cheers' now classic bar regulars, Norm Peterson (George Wendt), Cliff Claven (John Ratzenberger) and Carla Tortelli (Rhea Pearlman).

"I know some people think it’s crazy but Sideline is now focused on both scripted and non-scripted formats. We already produce Irish versions of international formats Mastermind, Take Me Out and The Great British Bake Off for Irish audiences so why not Cheers?," said McGrath.

"Actually with a scripted format we have a lot more freedom and while we will have access to the original 275 Cheers scripts we want to adapt the 10 or 12 we need for the Irish market. The decision to option Cheers is also a strategic one as the deal gives us a brilliant insider education on the execution, casting, writing and top class production values of one of most celebrated studio shows in TV comedy history."

Sideline is developing it via its comedy division, the scripted arm of the Dublin-based banner set up in October 2012 to produce original Irish comedy projects for radio, TV, online and "ultimately film."

Other projects on its slate include one from the creatives behind Sminky Shorts whose animations so far have 12 million views on YouTube.

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Cork based animator and writer Andrew James is working with producer Dee Ellis and script editor John Henderson on developing an original adult animation series with the working title Where the Sun Don’t Shine.

"Ireland is full of comedy talent across a gamut of genres and I suppose what we are trying to do is to target and work with the best and see what we can do to bring them on to the next level," McGrath said.

On the sitcom side, aside from the Cheers revamp, Sideline's comedy division is also working on a show with Father Ted and Moone Boy director Declan Lowney attached.

Sideline Productions –- including its scripted and non -scripted formats -– are now repped internationally by talent agents ICM. 

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