Rev. Run Family Comedy Nabs Netflix Series Pickup

It's a success story for the project, passed over for pilot at ABC and filmed as a presentation because producers Amblin and ABC Studios believed in the concept.
Courtesy of Cooking Channel
Rev. Run and Justine Simmons

ABC's pass is Netflix's gain.

The streaming giant has handed out a 10-episode series pickup to an untitled comedy starring Joseph "Rev. Run" Simmons and his wife, Justine Simmons.

The multicamera effort stars Rev. Run as a legendary rapper whose plans for slowing down are thwarted when his wife Justine (played by Rev. Run's real-life wife) decides to pursue her own dreams. While Rev. Run and Justine have starred on several reality shows over the years, this is their first scripted family sitcom playing characters loosely inspired by themselves. (Rev. Run was a founding member of Run-D.M.C. and is a practicing minister.)

The comedy has an interesting backstory. ABC landed the script, from ABC Studios and Amblin Television, in October 2016 with a sizable penalty attached after a multiple-network bidding war. The Disney-owned broadcaster then passed on picking up the project to pilot.

ABC Studios and Amblin Television believed in the comedy, from creator Jeremy Bronson (Speechless), 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 (which resulted in a series pickup). ABC Studios obliged, offering the extra money to help deliver a competitive budget. The pilot took over the Black-ish soundstage after the ABC hit wrapped for the season and filmed a multicamera/hybrid comedy.

ABC had the first-look window on the project in May and passed; the project was then shopped to broadcast, cable and streaming platforms afterward. That's when Netflix came in.

Bronson penned the script for the comedy. Andrew Reich (Friends) will serve as showrunner. The duo executive produce alongside Rev. Run and his manager, Michael Lehmann of Simmons Lehman Productions, Justine Simmons and Amblin Television co-presidents Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey. The project hails from ABC Signature Studios. Production will begin in January.

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 the rapper-minister and his family.

For Bronson, the Rev. Run comedy is his second series pickup of the year following ABC's single-camera comedy The Mayor, which this week received an order for three additional scripts as it awaits a potential full-season pickup. 

Amblin TV, meanwhile, next has the drama Reverie, starring Sarah Shahi, awaiting a premiere date at NBC. That series joins a roster of scripted originals that includes CBS' Michael Weatherly drama Bull and FX critical favorite The Americans.

The Rev. Run comedy becomes the latest ABC Studios series on Netflix, which includes its Marvel dramas.

This is the second passed-over pilot from last season's crop to land a series pickup at Netflix. The streaming giant in June picked up Debby Ryan starrer Insatiable to series after the CBS Television Studios-produced pilot narrowly missed a series pickup at The CW.

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