4:30pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
ABC Orders Comedy Pilots From Zach Braff, 'Hamilton's' Daveed Diggs
ABC is moving forward on two of its biggest development season comedies.
The network has handed out pilot orders to an untitled mayoral comedy from Hamilton Tony winner Daveed Diggs and fellow single-camera entry Start Up, starring, executive produced and directed by Scrubs alum Zach Braff.
The untitled mayor comedy centers on an outspoken, idealistic rapper who runs for office as a publicity stunt and when he actually gets elected, he surprises everyone (including himself) when he has a knack for the job and slowly transforms City Hall. The project landed at ABC in October with a sizable cast-contingent pilot production commitment. The network, sources say, is near a deal for a young newcomer to star.
Jeremy Bronson (Speechless, Grandfathered, The Mindy Project, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon) will pen the script and exec produce alongside rapper-actor Diggs, who is not expected to have an onscreen role. Jamie Tarses, Scott Stuber, Dylan Clark and James Griffiths also will exec produce, with the latter also on board to direct the pilot. The comedy hails from ABC Studios, where Bronson as well as Tarses, Stuber and Clark's Bluegrass FanFare are under overall deals.
The project brings Diggs and Bronson back into the ABC fold after the Hamilton co-star had an arc on the network's Black-ish, with the latter having directed the pilot for the Anthony Anderson/Tracee Ellis Ross hit.
Start Up, meanwhile, marks Braff's return to series television. The project, based on the podcast of the same name, landed at ABC in August with a put-pilot commitment with multiple networks bidding. The comedy revolves around Alex Schuman (Braff), an inquisitive journalist, husband and father who dives headfirst into the brave new world of entrepreneurship when he quits his stable job and starts his own business.
The project hails from Blacklist producers John Davis and his Davis Entertainment, which also produces ABC comedy Dr. Ken. Scrubs grad Matt Tarses will reteam with Braff and pen the script for the comedy. Exec producers include Tarses, Braff and Davis and Davis Entertainment topper John Fox. Also on board as EPs are Gimlet Media's Chris Giliberti, Alex Blumberg and Matt Lieber (The Start Up title could change as Sony also produces a drama for Crackle with the same name.)
For Braff, Start Up brings him back to ABC, where Scrubs finished its run. He has largely been focused on features in the time since the Bill Lawrence comedy ended its nine-season run.
The pickups bring ABC's comedy pilot haul to four — all of them single-camera. They join Libby & Malcolm, from Black-ish showrunner Kenya Barris, and Greg Berlanti and Diablo Cody's Raised by Wolves. The network also is said to be eyeing a Black-ish spinoff from Barris and starring Yara Shahidi (Zoey).