Matthew Perry sets pilot at Showtime

Writing and exec producing with Peter Tolan

Showtime is getting into business with Matthew Perry and Peter Tolan with "The End of Steve," a dark comedy that the duo are writing and executive producing.

The pay cable network has given a pilot commitment with a substantial penalty to the half-hour project, which is from Sony Pictures TV. Perry also will star as the title character, an egomaniacal local talk show host who is on a reluctant path to redemption.

The project marks Showtime's first collaboration with Perry and Tolan as well as Perry's first project with Sony. Tolan, meanwhile, co-created and executive produces the FX drama "Rescue Me" for Sony and will continue in that capacity as well.

"Tolan and Perry, a twisted match made in heaven!" Showtime president of entertainment Robert Greenblatt said. "I've been trying to get into business with Peter Tolan for literally 20 years, so my persistence finally paid off. And I couldn't be happier than to have him co-creating this bitingly funny character with Matthew Perry, who seems born to play this character better than anyone I can think of."

SPT co-presidents Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg said Perry had met with several writers before clicking with Tolan. The duo then brought their pitch into SPT, which had a relationship with Showtime via their dramedy "Huff."

"We knew going in that it was a cable idea, and particularly a premium cable idea," Erlicht said. "We're not looking to reinvent TV, but this is something that's not currently on TV. We're taking an innovative approach."

Van Amburg added that the role is unlike any Perry has played.

"This role will show fans that he can be not only funny but also reach to some dark places," he said. "It will be a departure from the way America thinks of Matthew. This is the beginning of a really exciting journey."

Perry's last series regular role was on NBC's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" during the 2006-07 season. Perry, who next appears in the film "17 Again," recently received Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG nominations for his role in the TNT telefilm "The Ron Clark Story."

Perry and Tolan are repped by CAA. Perry is managed by Doug Chapin.