Martin, Schiff move in with ABC, 'Cavemen'

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"Grounded for Life" creators Bill Martin and Mike Schiff have inked a two-year overall deal with ABC Television Studio.

Under the seven-figure pact, which has an option for a third year, Martin and Schiff are serving as executive producers/showrunners on the studio's much-buzzed-about comedy pilot for ABC "Cavemen." They also will develop new projects for ABC TV Studio.

Based on the characters from the Geico commercials, "Cavemen" revolves around three cavemen who strive to live normal lives in modern-day Atlanta.

It was Martin and Schiff's stint as executive producers/showrunners on another broad comedy about outsiders trying to blend into American society, NBC's alien-themed "3rd Rock From the Sun," that made the two a perfect choice for "Cavemen."

"Bill and Mike have written some of the most unique characters in television," ABC TV Studios' executive vp Julia Franz said. "Their background and sensibility lends itself to the kind of tone and storytelling we're going for on 'Cavemen.' We thought they would be the perfect fit with the team of producers who brought us the project."

On "Cavemen," Martin and Schiff serve as executive producers alongside the pilot's directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon, who also directed the Geico commercials, as well as Daniel Rappaport and Guymon Casady.

The pilot's writer, Joe Lawson, who also is behind the commercials, serves as co-exec producer.

Martin and Schiff, who met at Columbia University's film school, most recently were under a two-year overall deal at 20th Century Fox TV. While there they created the comedy "The Singles Table," which received a midseason series order by NBC in May but is yet to be assigned a premiere date.

Schiff described their experience on "Singles" as "creatively satisfying and a lot of fun," but with the series in limbo, the two looked around for another project.

"Bill and I don't like staying still," Schiff said. "We wanted to be on a set again."

Schiff and Martin said they had liked the Geico commercials and were "intrigued" by the idea of translating them to a TV series.

"There was something appealing about coming into a project that was two weeks away from shooting and also something intimidating because you have to quickly wrap your head around everything -- the characters, the script the casting," Martin said.

The two made some tweaks to Lawson's script, which begins filming today.

Robin and Schiff said they feel energized joining ABC's hunt for hit comedy series.

"I do believe ABC (brass) are taking shots (in the comedy arena), and I salute them for it," Schiff said.

The duo's relationship with ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson goes way back, when McPherson was a programming executive at NBC and frequent visitor on the "3rd Rock" set.

Martin and Schiff's series experience ranges from sketch shows early in the their career, such as "In Living Color," "House of Buggin' " and "She TV," to the high-concept "3rd Rock," family sitcom "Grounded for Life" and "Singles," the relationship comedy about a group of singles.

Martin and Schiff are repped by CAA and attorney Michael Gendler.
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