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When AMC announced development of a new series project with Better Call Saul star Bob Odenkirk in early April, the network said it was putting development on a fast track.
Turns out they weren’t kidding.
That project, Straight Man, has scored a series order barely two weeks after it was announced. Odenkirk will star in and executive produce the adaptation of Richard Russo’s novel, with a premiere on AMC and its AMC+ streaming platform slated for 2023. The dramedy will be Odenkirk’s third series at AMC, following Breaking Bad and its prequel Better Call Saul, whose final season debuted on Monday.
Sony’s TriStar TV and Gran Via are producing the project. Aaron Zelman (Damages, Resurrection) and Paul Lieberstein (The Office) are adapting Russo’s novel and will serve as showrunners. Peter Farrelly is set to direct.
The saying goes ‘the third time’s a charm,’ but when it comes to Bob Odenkirk on AMC, the first and second times were about as charming, captivating and viscerally entertaining as it gets,” said AMC Studios and AMC Networks entertainment president Dan McDermott. “As Better Call Saul begins its epic sixth and final season, we could not be more excited by the prospect of keeping Bob at home on AMC and watching him breathe life into another nuanced, complicated and unforgettable character. The chance to collaborate once again with our partners at Sony Pictures Television and Mark Johnson’s Gran Via is even more icing on a very satisfying cake.”
Straight Man centers on William Henry Devereaux Jr. (Odenkirk), the unlikely chairman of the English department in a badly underfunded college in the Pennsylvania rust belt who is going through a midlife crisis.
“I am thrilled that AMC is embracing the unique scenario and characters in Paul and Aaron’s adaptation of Straight Man,” said Odenkirk. “I have loved the mix of comedy and drama in Better Call Saul, and this is another story with a unique dynamic, and the kind of closely observed character writing and exploration that AMC has become the touchstone for. It’s going to be fun to play and watch.”
Added Zelman and Lieberstein, “We’re so excited to work with Bob. We don’t know another actor who can give you three different emotions on his face at the same time, in a reaction shot. We’re thrilled to swim in the depth of his range. And it’s a dream to be working with Mark Johnson, who literally has Jedi powers to make everyone think they came up with his idea. Oh, and did we mention the legendary Peter Farrelly? AMC Networks and Sony/Tristar have been uniquely supportive partners in sharing our vision for the show. Ever since Mad Men we’ve wanted a show on this network, where risk taking is par for the course. We’re honored to be bringing Richard Russo’s amazing novel to life here.”
Straight Man also continues Odenkirk’s association with Sony Pictures Television Studios, which produced both Breaking Bad and Saul and where the Emmy winner has a first-look deal.
“We are thrilled to be on this next adventure with AMC, Bob Odenkirk and Mark Johnson,” said Sony Pictures TV Studios president Jeff Frost and co-president Jason Clodfelter. “We have had such amazing success and such a remarkable partnership together and truly look forward to working with Aaron and Paul in bringing this captivating series to life.”
Odenkirk isn’t the only Better Call Saul actor AMC is keeping in the fold: Giancarlo Esposito will star in and executive produce a drama called The Driver for the cabler. It’s also due to premiere in 2023.
Zelman, Lieberstein and Odenkirk are executive producing Straight Man with Farrelly, Mark Johnson of Gran Via, Russo, Naomi Odenkirk and Marc Provissiero.
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