ABC Exploring Families With Cancer, Special Needs Kids in Latest Pilot Orders

Scott Silveri - P 2014
AP Images/Invision

Scott Silveri - P 2014

ABC is making good on its vow to explore new types of families.

The network on Monday picked up comedy pilots featuring families coping with cancer and special needs children, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Pearl, produced in-house by ABC Studios, centers on a larger-than-life family matriarch who finds out she has cancer and becomes intent on controlling and orchestrating every aspect of her family's life before she dies. The single-camera comedy is written and produced by Friends graduate Andrew Reich.

Speechless, meanwhile, revolves around a family with a special needs child who is good at dealing with the challenges it faces — and excellent at creating new ones. The single-camera comedy hails from 20th Century Fox Television, with fellow Friends alum Scott Silveri on board to write and exec produce. The comedy is additionally exec produced by Fresh Off the Boat duo Jake Kasdan and Melvin Mar.

The news comes as family comedies were one of the five hottest trends this past development season. ABC Studios exec vp Patrick Moran and 20th TV creative affairs president Jonathan Davis told THR at the time that their studios were looking for diverse voices in family fare in a bid to see reflections of their lives on the small screen.

At ABC, the two comedies join Downward Dog as the first three half-hour pilots in the works at the Disney-owned network. Dog, starring Allison Tolman, has already been completed and has eceived early support from network topper Paul Lee.

Keep up with all the latest pilot news with THR's handy guide to pilot season.