Rev. Run Family Comedy Gets Pilot Presentation Order From ABC Studios

ABC passed on picking up the project to pilot, but the producers and studio believe in the script and are taking a page from 'Cristela's' playbook.
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Joseph "Rev. Run" Simmons and his wife, Justine Simmons, are getting another crack at their TV comedy.

ABC Studios and Amblin TV are reteaming to film a pilot presentation for the untitled comedy that would star the couple, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The comedy — in which the Simmons couple will play themselves — centers on a legendary rapper whose plans for slowing down are thwarted when his wife decides to pursue her own dreams and stardom. (Rev. Run was a founding member of Run-D.M.C. and is a practicing minister.)

The multicamera project, from Amblin Television and creator Jeremy Bronson (Speechless, The Mindy Project), landed at ABC in October following a multiple-network bidding war with a sizable penalty attached.

ABC instead opted to bypass the Rev. Run project in favor of two other multicamera family comedies — Rob Riggle's untitled single-dad comedy and Amy Poehler's Carol Burnett starrer Household Name.

Everyone involved with the Rev. Run comedy believed in the project and asked ABC Studios to divert their individual penalties back into shooting a "guerrilla"-style pilot presentation, similar to what 20th Century Fox Television did with Cristela three years ago. (That resulted in a series pickup and full-season order.) ABC Studios obliged, offering the extra money to help deliver a competitive budget. Sources note that ABC will have a 24-hour first-look window in May at the finished product. Should ABC pass, the comedy would be shopped to broadcast, cable and streaming platforms.

Production is expected to begin soon, with the project taking over the Black-ish soundstage now that the ABC hit has wrapped production for the season. The untitled project, which also recently cast the central family's three kids (who range in age from 10 to 19), will be filmed as a multicamera/hybrid comedy. Emmy-nominated director Don Scardino (30 Rock) will helm the pilot presentation. Bronson will pen the script, with Jhoni Marchinko (Will & Grace) set to supervise. The duo executive produce alongside Rev. Run and his manager, Michael Lehman of Simmons Lehman Productions, Justine Simmons and Amblin Television co-presidents Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey.

Rev. Run has become a staple on television with reality shows including Rev Run's Renovation, Rev Run's Sunday Suppers and MTV's Run's House, the latter of which ran for six seasons and featured Simmons and his family.

Amblin TV, meanwhile, recently started production on NBC drama pilot Reverie, starring Sarah Shahi, in Vancouver, British Columbia. The company also exec produces CBS' Michael Weatherly drama, Bull, and FX critical favorite The Americans.

For Bronson, the Rev. Run comedy is his second pilot of the season. He's also penning the script for and exec producing ABC's untitled city mayor project from exec producer and Hamilton favorite Daveed Diggs, who guest-starred on Black-ish this past season.

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