ABC thinks the French are funny

Net picks up U.S. version of 'Don't Do This...'

ABC is making a French comedy connection.  

In a competitive situation, the network has picked up a U.S. version of the Gallic comedy series "Don't Do This, Don't Do That" (Fais pas ci, fais pas ca).

"Samantha Who?" co-executive producer Bob Kushell is on board to adapt the format, a documentary-style look at the lives of two families.

"The show is about two very different families struggling to live in the same screwed-up world," Kushell said. "What attracted me to the format is it really gives me the opportunity to explore the minutiae of family life and not have to wrap up every episode with a happy ending."

In Hollywood, France often is perceived as punch-line material and not so much as a source of series material, but that didn't give Kushell much trepidation.

"I don't like to think of it as a French format; I think of it more as a 'freedom' format," he quipped.

Kushell plans several twists to the original series, including changing the title. "I'm thinking of changing it to 'Family Guy,' " he said. "I mean, that show is huge."

In addition to penning the ABC Studios-produced project, which has received script order with penalty, Kushell will executive produce with Promofilm U.S., the American arm of Spanish TV giant Imagina.

Sweden-based Sparks Network owns the format rights to "Don't Do This," which premiered on France 2 in September.

With foreign formats getting ever more popular, U.S. networks have widened their net beyond their usual suspect, the U.K. In the past year, formats from such countries as Israel, Argentina, Colombia, Australia and New Zealand have found their way to American outlets.

Kushell's series credits also include NBC's "3rd Rock From the Sun" and Fox's "The Simpsons" and "Malcolm in the Middle."

The project was packaged by ICM.