Topher Grace Sets Network TV Return in ABC Comedy

The former 'That '70s Show' star will play a lead role in and executive produce the network's pilot 'Home Economics.'
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Topher Grace

ABC has landed one of the most in-demand actors of this pilot season, signing Topher Grace to star in its comedy pilot Home Economics.

Should the pilot go to series, it would be Grace's first regular role on a broadcast show since he departed That '70s Show in 2005. The actor has closed a sizable deal that also includes an executive producer credit on the project, which comes from Lionsgate TV and ABC Studios.

Home Economics, created by Michael Colton and John Aboud (Penguins of Madagascar, Leverage), centers on three sibilngs — one is a member of the 1 percent, one is middle class and one is barely hanging on.

Grace will play Tom, the middle sibling both in age and economic status — but is not middlebrow. He's an intellectual, a novelist who's had a couple books that sold decently, but his last one did not. He strives to be where his brother is financially, but fears he'll slip down to his sister's level. He's in a creative field, so his income fluctuates. That wasn't such a concern when he was starting out, but now he's plagued by financial anxiety after having twins.

Colton and Aboud executive produce with Grace and Eric and Kim Tannenbaum (Two and a Half Men, Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist), who have an overall deal at Lionsgate. The Tannenbaum Company's Jason Wang is a co-exec producer, and Lionsgate's Maxfield Elins will oversee for the studio.

Grace starred with Julianna Margulies on National Geographic's limited series The Hot Zone in 2019. His other recent credits include the Black Mirror installment "Smithereens," BlacKkKlansman, Under the Silver Lake and Interstellar. He next will be seen in Jon Stewart's feature Irresistible with Steve Carell and Rose Byrne. Grace is repped by ICM, Lighthouse Management & Media and Ziffren Brittenham.

Home Economics is the fourth comedy pilot ABC has ordered this cycle — half as many at this point as the network did last year. ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke is shifting the network to a more year-round, "second cycle" development model. "We're staying open year-round and we're starting a second cycle of pilots for fall and summer — and when things are ready," Burke told The Hollywood Reporter. "This is about acknowledging that the pace with which we try to get pilots ready is excruciating and so tough on writers."