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Comedy writer-producer David Hemingson is returning to his legal roots with a one-hour dramedy project that has landed at ABC with a put pilot commitment after healthy bidding by several networks.
The untitled show focuses on a diverse group of hard-living, hard-working young associates at a high-profile law firm and the eccentric, aggressive and ambitious partners that dominate and complicate their lives. It is produced by 20th Century Fox Television, where Hemingson has an overall deal.
During the past 10 years, Hemingson has worked on such half-hour comedies as NBC’s “Just Shoot Me,” CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother” and Fox’s animated “Family Guy” and “American Dad.” He also created Fox’s comedy series “Kitchen Confidential.”
But before making a name for himself as a TV writer, Hemingson spent three years working as a lawyer.
He began pursuing a career in entertainment while he was still a student at Columbia Law School. But at the time, his aspirations were focused entirely on entertainment law.
Hemingson was well on his way when, after graduation, he beat hundreds of other candidates to land an associate position at Loeb & Loeb in Los Angeles.
“They were exciting, exhilarating times for me,” he recalled of his years at the law firm where he often had to put in 24-hour workdays, barely having time to change his shirt after all-nighters in the office.
Hemingson’s show for ABC is not based on his experience at Loeb & Loeb but is inspired by an amalgam of people he has met in the legal circles, with a focus on the young associates he knew working around town.
“We were a ragtag family of 25-year-olds in the dream capital of the world, finding and reinventing ourselves and dealing with the huge personalities of our clients and our bosses,” he said.
A couple of years into his tenure as an entertainment attorney, Hemingson found himself more attracted to writing TV shows than making deals for them. He wasn’t a novice at comedy writing, having penned shows at Columbia, and he had the example of a couple of his law school friends who already were working as writers. But it wasn’t until one of his closest friends, a lawyer, died in an accident, that Hemingson made the career-changing decision to leave law and became a writer.
“This is something that is in your heart, (and) you shouldn’t postpone it,” he said of the moment he made up his mind.
Hemingson never looked back. After struggling for six months, living off the money he’d saved in his final year as a lawyer, a chance meeting at a cocktail party in New York led to his first writing gig as a story editor on the Nickelodeon comedy “The Adventures of Pete & Pete.”
Coincidentally, it was his legal training that landed him the job. As a test, he was sent a script he needed to fix, something he approached as writing a legal brief. It worked.
Hemingson said he has never regretted his career switch and is very happy being a writer and producer. “But I also cherish the time I spent as a lawyer,” he said. “I learned a great deal about people and personalities.”
Hemingson, who wrote and executive produced the half-hour comedy pilots “The Call” for ABC and the animated “Two Dreadful Children” for Fox this past development season, is repped by Endeavor and attorney Cliff Gilbert-Lurie.
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