Patricia Heaton moves toward 'Middle'

ABC eyeing actress for new single-camera comedy

ABC is back in "The Middle."

The network is bringing back the quirky Warner Bros. TV-produced single-camera comedy and eyeing Patricia Heaton for the lead.

"Middle," written by DeAnn Heline and Eileen Heisler, tells the story of a middle-class Midwestern family seen through the eyes of the mother. It was developed during the 2006-07 development cycle when it was picked up to pilot starring Ricki Lake but narrowly missed the cut for a series order.

Now ABC is said to have given the project a new cast-contingent pilot order possibly tied to landing Heaton as the lead.

Picking up a pilot contingent on a specific actor is rare but not unprecedented. Five years ago, CBS picked up the pilot for "Two and a Half Men" contingent on the producers securing Charlie Sheen.

Heaton knows a thing or two about playing a harried mother, having won two Emmys for her role on "Everybody Loves Raymond." If she signs on, she will reunite at the network with her "Back to You" co-star Kelsey Grammer, who stars in another single-camera ABC comedy pilot, "Roman's Empire."