2007-08 comedy pilots: Fox


At Fox, the goal for the comedy team this development cycle is crystal clear.

"We need to find the next huge breakout comedy hit. It was as simple as that," says Susan Levison, Fox senior vp comedy. "I feel that was my biggest challenge and my biggest opportunity."

ABC, NBC and even CBS and CW went for slates heavy on single-camera projects this year. But Fox, which was at the forefront of popularizing the format with "Malcolm in the Middle," "The Bernie Mac Show" and "Arrested Development," is the only network to order more multicamera pilots than single-camera ones.

"We always try to zag where others zig," Levison says.

Fox's multicamera pilots have strong pedigrees. Workplace sitcom "Action News" was written by "Frasier" executive producer Christopher Lloyd and "Just Shoot Me" creator Steve Levitan, and features Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton. The network's two multicamera comedies that center on female characters, Amy Sherman-Palladino's "The Return of Jezebel James" and British import "Minister of Divine," also attracted big-name talent with "Jezebel" landing Parker Posey and "Minister" taping Grammer's "Cheers" co-star Kirstie Alley.

In her first season at the helm of Fox's comedy department, Levison also is making a big push in the animated comedy area with three pickups, including a presentation from "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" and "Saturday Night Live" prankster Robert Smigel.

Action News (series commitment)
Prod. Co.: 20th Century Fox TV-Levitan/Lloyd Prods.
Prod. Team: Steven Levitan (writer), Christopher Lloyd (writer)
Ensemble comedy in which an egotistical anchorman whose career has seen better days (Kelsey Grammer) rejoins his former co-anchor (Patricia Heaton) at the Buffalo TV station where they spent many happy years driving each other crazy

Animals (presentation)
Prod. Co.: 20th Century Fox TV/Happy Madison
Prod. Team: Robert Smigel (writer), Greg Cohen (writer)
Parody of suburban life using the animal kingdom (animated)

The Beast
Prod. Co.: CBS Paramount Network TV/FremantleMedia North America
Prod. Team: Tucker Cawley (writer)
Comedy about a womanizing veterinarian who isn't particularly fond of animals but loves meeting and dating their female owners; based on the BBC series

Untitled Victor Fresco

Prod. Co.: 20th Century Fox Television
Prod. Team: Victor Fresco (writer), Marc Buckland (director)
10-year-old boy tries to navigate life in his high-achieving, overstressed family with the help of his eccentric grandfather

Prod. Co.: Sony Pictures TV/25 C Prods.
Prod. Team: Denise Moss (writer), Sarah Timberman, Carl Beverly
Bad-boy literary luminary escapes his disgraced career teaching at Yale only to find himself among the ultra-PC ranks of teachers at an Ohio public high school (single-camera)

The Life and Times of Tim
Prod. Co.: Warner Bros. TV/Werner-Gold-Miller Prods.
Prod. Team: Steve Dildarian (writer), Tom Werner, Jimmy Miller, Mike Clements
The story of a very normal guy named Tim who somehow always finds himself in deep trouble at home and the office; voice cast includes Cheri Oteri, Kurtwood Smith (animated)

Me & Lee? (director-contingent)
Prod. Co.: Lionsgate
Prod. Team: Matthew Salsberg (writer), Jenji Kohan, Allan Loeb, Steven Pearl
Guy suffering from chronic back pain gets more than he bargained for when he undergoes "bionic" back surgery in a secret basement lab (single-camera)

Untitled Liz Meriwether (cast-contingent)
Prod. Co.: 20th Century Fox TV/ Dawn Parouse Prods.
Prod. Team: Elizabeth Meriwether (writer), Dawn Parouse, Jeff Richman, Jason Weiner (director)
Three sorority sisters try to clean up their act after graduating from college but find altering their party girl ways harder to do than they expected (single-camera)

Minister of Divine
Prod. Co.: 20th Century Fox TV/Tiger Aspect
Prod. Team: Suzanne Martin (writer), Richard Curtis, Andrew Zein, Mark Chapman, Pam Fryman (director)
Woman (Kirstie Alley) known for her rebellious younger days returns to her native small town to be a minister; based on the BBC series "The Vicar of Dibley"

Playing Chicken
Prod. Co.: Warner Bros. TV/Werner-Gold-Miller Prods.
Prod. Team: Sean Anders (writer), John Morris (writer), Tom Werner, Jimmy Miller, Mike Clements, John Pasquin (director)
Two brothers who differ politically are forced to live together after one (Norbert Leo Butz) suffers an accident that leaves him in a wheelchair

The Return of Jezebel James
Prod. Co.: Regency Television
Prod. Team: Amy Sherman-Palladino (writer, director), Daniel Palladino
Single successful book editor (Parker Posey) learns she is physically unable to conceive and asks her estranged younger sister to carry her baby for her

Untitled Revenge (presentation)
Prod. Co.: Fox 21
Prod. Team: Damon Santostefano (writer, director)
Partially scripted comedy about three thrill-seeking girlfriends who hit the road to settle the score with all of the men who have ever wronged them (single-camera)

The Rules of Starting Over

Prod. Co.: 20th Century Fox TV/Conundrum Entertainment/Watson Pond Prods.
Prod. Team: Chris Pappas (writer), Mike Bernier (writer), Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly (director), Bradley Thomas, Brad Johnson
35-year-old (Craig Bierko) and his buddies, all newly single, jump headfirst back into the dating scene and learn the painful rules for starting over (single-camera)

Two Dreadful Children (presentation)
Prod. Co.: 20th Century Fox Television
Prod. Team: Dave Hemingson
Redneck family discovers that their two horribly disobedient fraternal twins are geniuses; voice cast includes Chris Kattan, French Stewart, Caroline Rhea (animated)

Two Families
Prod. Co.: 20th Century Fox TV/HBO Independent Prods.
Prod. Team: Barbara Wallace (writer), Thomas R. Wolfe (writer), Michael Engler (director)
Blended family centered on two sets of adult siblings who didn't know they shared the same father (single-camera)

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