'Sunny' trio blasts off for 20th TV pilot

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"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" masterminds Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day and Glenn Howerton are "boldly going" to broadcast television.

The trio has inked a two-year overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV and has landed a pilot order from Fox for "Boldly Going Nowhere," a single-camera comedy.

Under the pact with 20th TV, McElhenney, Day and Howerton will develop new series for the studio, but their services will be in second position to their work on their quirky FX comedy, which has been renewed for a fourth season.

In addition to the pilot, Fox ordered five additional scripts for "Nowhere," which 20th TV will produce with McElhenney, Day and Howerton's RCG, LLC and 3 Arts Entertainment. McElhenney, Day and Howerton, who won't appear on the show, are exec producing with Michael Rotenberg and Nick Frenkel.

"Nowhere," a high-concept comedy about what happens day-to-day on an intergalactic spaceship helmed by a rogue captain, is based on an idea by Adam Stein, McElhenney, Day and Howerton's assistant, which he pitched to them in August.

At the time, the trio was busy editing the third season of "Sunny," but they liked the premise.

"All of us grew up watching 'Star Trek' and other sci-fi series, and they're always about these adventures," McElhenney said. "We thought a great area to explore is what happens between the adventures, how the crew members take care of daily routine stuff on the spaceship."

20th TV approached McElhenney, Day and Howerton about an overall deal last summer.

"They are incredibly funny, smart, innovative creators who have done fantastic work on "Sunny,'" 20th TV chairman Dana Walden said. "Also, a lot of the our decision to make a deal was driven by (Fox's) Peter Liguori's true passion for the three of them."

The deal was well underway when the strike began. During the work stoppage, the trio took some time between picketing to ponder their next career move -- whether to do a movie or another series. That's when Stein's idea came up again.

After the end of the strike, as the pact 20th was being wrapped up, McElhenney, Day, Howerton and Stein did some brainstorming, and then McElhenney and Day sat down and wrote the first draft in two days.

The trio handed 20th TV executives the script for "Nowhere." Three days later, they got a call from Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly who told them he was picking the project.

"They knocked out a script that completely leapt out of the pile," Reilly said. "It has Fox sensibility, it's very character-driven, it's politically incorrect, it's an amazing comedy -- high-concept but not a spoof."

McElhenney, Day and Howerton plan to begin prepping the pilot and writing the extra five scripts in October, after they wrap postproduction on the upcoming season of "Sunny." After that, they expected to attach an experienced showrunner the project if "Sunny" continues its run on FX.

"No matter what, our first priority is 'Sunny,' " McElhenney said.

But he and his cohorts are eager to launch other series, working with other writers and directors.

"We have don't have a ton of time, but we have a ton of ideas," McElhenney said. "We feel we have the energy to expand and do other things."
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