TBS speeds up Engvall project

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TBS has handed out a pilot order to a multicamera family comedy starring comedian Bill Engvall.

It has been a quick turnaround for the untitled project, penned by Engvall and veteran TV comedy writer Michael Leeson, which was picked up as a script about two months ago (HR 10/5).

"They nailed it," TNT and TBS' senior vp original programming Michael Wright said of Engvall and Leeson's first draft that prompted the fast greenlight.

Engvall, one of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour comedians, will play the father at the center of the untitled family sitcom, which marks the first multicamera comedy pilot for TBS.

Ever since TBS ventured into scripted programming last year, the cable networks has been looking to develop half-hour series that complement its highly rated syndicated comedies "Friends," "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Sex and the City."

The untitled Engvall/Leeson comedy is being eyed as a potential companion to "Raymond," also a family sitcom built around a standup comedian, Ray Romano.

"It's very clever and witty but not mean-spirited," Wright said of the Engvall/Leeson project. "Bill is such a likable and engaging guy, and Michael really understands family comedy and has a terrific and fresh approach to it."

Engvall and Leeson are executive producing the pilot with Engvall's manager, J.P. Williams.

This is the second comedy pilot recently greenlighted by TBS, following the cast-contingent pickup of "Imperfect Union" -- a workplace show from Eric McCormack's Big Cattle Prods. -- last month (HR 10/10).

Engvall co-starred in "Blue Collar Comedy Tour: The Movie" and its sequels as well as the sketch-comedy series "Blue Collar TV."

Leeson, who co-created "The Cosby Show," has a list of credits that includes TV's "Taxi," "Happy Days," "All in the Family" and "Mary Tyler Moore" as well as the feature films "The War of the Roses" and "The Tuxedo."
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