Nicholas Sparks Divorce Comedy in the Works at ABC

Nicholas Sparks - H 2015
Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

ABC is getting into business with the king of romance novels.

The network has handed out a script commitment for The Next Chapter, from executive producer Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook), The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Based on a pitch from writer Austin Winsberg (Gossip Girl), the single-camera comedy centers on top-selling romance novelist Ben Diamond, who goes through a divorce and not only begins to question his belief in love, but must also learn to date again and live on his own — all while dealing with the pressures of his public persona as the world's most foremost "expert" on love. The comedy is loosely based on Sparks' new life as a single man. (Sparks separated from his wife of 25 years in January.)

Winsberg will pen the script and exec produce the comedy alongside Sparks and his Warner Bros. Television-based Nicholas Sparks Productions banner. Sparks' president of production Theresa Park will also exec produce. Stacey Levin is attached as a supervising producer.

Should The Next Chapter move forward, it would be Sparks' first scripted comedy and first original series. The best-selling author also had Lifetime drama Deliverance Creek set as a backdoor pilot/TV movie that did not move forward.

The news comes as Sparks' beloved film The Notebook is also in development as a TV reboot at The CW via WBTV with the author on board as an exec producer.

Winsberg's credits include Broadway musical First Date as well as Hearts and Clubs with Christina Aguilera for ABC Family and a John Legend entry for Showtime. He's repped by CAA, Trevor Engelson at Underground and Bloom Hergott.

Sparks — whose books The Longest Ride, The Best of Me, The Lucky One, Dear John and Message in a Bottle, among others — have been adapted for the big-screen, is with UTA.

Divorce has been one of the biggest themes this development season in comedy, with projects from Shonda Rhimes, among others.


Author Nicholas Sparks explains the process of adapting his novel 'Safe Haven' into a screenplay in this 2014 video from THR.