Regency back on laugh track
Empty"The Bernie Mac Show" creator Larry Wilmore is back in business with Regency TV and Fox with a new single-camera comedy.
The Wilmore half-hour is one of about 20 projects on Regency's development slate, which also includes shows from writers Jill Soloway, P.K. Simonds and Nicholas Stoller, comedian Jessi Klein and feature writer-producer Allan Loeb.
In the tradition of Regency, home of such popular comedies as "Malcolm in the Middle" and "Bernie Mac," the company's 2006-07 development skews toward half-hours.
"I really want comedy to come back," Regency president Robin Schwartz said of the genre, which has struggled recently to launch new hit series. None of this fall's new half-hour series, including Regency TV's well-received "Help Me Help You," has been picked up for a full season yet.
In the saturated drama field, Regency is using a targeted approach with strong character-driven shows, Schwartz said.
The untitled Wilmore project, which has received a script commitment from Fox, chronicles the political and social workings of a government agency.
"It's such a relevant and timely show," said Schwartz, who compared the tone of the project to "All In the Family." "Hopefully it will push buttons, and no one can do that better than Larry."
Emmy winner Wilmore returns to Regency and Fox 31/2 years after he was dismissed from "Bernie Mac." "It's a great thing to be able to reunite," said Schwartz, who joined the company after Wilmore's exit.
The Klein comedy project, which has received a script commitment plus penalty from NBC, is described as a contemporary "Mary Tyler Moore"-like show about a skeptical, newly single woman who is a rising star at a self-help empire. Klein ("The Showbiz Show With David Spade") is writing the script under the supervision of Soloway ("Six Feet Under"), who has a script deal with Regency.
"Jessi is very special," Schwartz said. "She is a new voice and a very unique talent who has a fresh take on being a single woman."
Soloway has separately sold another comedy script to ABC about a successful Los Angeles marketing maven who makes a drastic career change when she falls for her local city councilman.
The Simonds drama, from Simonds (NBC's "Windfall"), Michael Valeo and Jon Marcus, centers on a charismatic, phony faith-healer who suddenly develops real powers.
"There is a lot of weight to this character who is flawed and looking for redemption," Schwartz said. "(The project) has a lot of heart and is very inspirational."
After generating a lot of interest, the project landed at ABC with a script commitment plus penalty.
Loeb and his producing partner, Steven Pearl, are producing two cop drama projects: "New Amsterdam," about a man cursed with immortality who works as a homicide detective in New York, and a project about Internal Affairs cops living in a "Copland"-type suburb.
"Amsterdam," from writer Christian Taylor ("Miracles"), has received a script commitment plus penalty at Fox, while the second drama, from feature writer Mikko Alanne, is set up at FX with a script commitment.
Other projects with script commitments on Regency's slate, which Schwartz oversees with senior vp Stephanie Levine and vp Andrea Shay, include:
A dark comedy for Fox from Carolyn Omine ("The Simpsons") and Doug Steinberg ("Psych") about a corporate underling who works her way up through the executive ranks by offing her co-workers.
A single-camera comedy for CBS from Stoller ("Fun With Dick and Jane") about a new teacher taking a job at the boarding school he once attended.
A multicamera comedy for the CW from Teri Schaffer ("Bernie Mac") about a 1970s blended family.
A multicamera comedy for Fox from Rick Wiener and Kenny Schwartz ("American Dad") that looks at love from three different perspectives.
A drama for FX from David Manson ("Saved").
A previously announced adaptation of the BBC nuptial comedy "The Worst Week of My Life" for Fox, with writer Ben Wexler and 20th Century Fox TV.
Additionally, Regency continues to develop a TV series based on the feature "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," which has a pilot commitment at ABC. The film's writer, Simon Kinberg, is penning the pilot script.