Roseanne Barr's Comeback Comedy 'Downwardly Mobile' Lands at NBC
In a bid for brand names and broad comedy, NBC snatched up Roseanne Barr's comeback sitcom, Downwardly Mobile.
The multi-camera ensemble, which landed a script plus penalty commitment from the network, is set in a mobile home community with former Roseanne writer/executive producer Eric Gilliland on board as a co-creator, writer and executive producer.
The Twentieth Century Fox TV-produced project, which also includes writer, executive producer and longtime boyfriend Johnny Argent and non-writing executive producer Steven Greener (Roseanne's Nuts), was waiting on a showrunner before being shopped to networks. Scoring Gilliland, who served as an executive producer and writer on Roseanne's long-running ABC comedy, was widely perceived as a coup.
In addition to an established rapport, WME-repped Gilliland brings significant comedy experience as a writer or producer on such series as The Wonder Years, That 70's Show and ABC's Mr. Sunshine. Working to his advantage: the new effort will mine similar territory as Roseanne, about blue-collar family and friends living in tough economic times.
While both the material (lower class living) and the format (multi-cam) are something of a departure for NBC, the desire to get back in business with one-time TV stars is a strategy several of the networks are embracing. Home Improvement's Tim Allen will have his big TV return Tuesday with the premiere of his ABC sitcom Last Man Standing, while the same network is also circling a sitcom vehicle for former Cheers star Kirstie Alley. For its part, NBC attempted (unsuccessfully) to score some nostalgia points with a platform for Mad About You star Paul Reiser last spring.
If ultimately picked up to series, Mobile will be Barr's first sitcom since Roseanne ended after nine seasons in 1997. Shortly after wrapping, the Emmy-winning actress dabbled in the talk show space with The Roseanne Show, but then remained largely out of the public eye in the years that followed. She tip-toed back into the spotlight more recently with Lifetime's short-lived docu-series Roseanne's Nuts, which followed the comedian as she ran a 40-acre macadamia nut farm in Hawaii.