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ABC is expanding the world of The Goldbergs.
The Disney-owned network has handed out a 13-episode series order for the 1990s-set spinoff formerly known as Schooled. Additionally, former Goldbergs series regular AJ Michalka, who plays Barry’s (Troy Gentile) ex-girlfriend, Lainey, has joined the cast of the untitled project, which has been retooled after original star Nia Long was no longer available. (Long is a series regular on CBS’ NCIS: L.A.) The series will air during the 2018-19 broadcast season and follow the teachers of William Penn Academy — led by Tim Meadows’ Principal Glascott, Bryan Callen’s Coach Mellor and Michalka’s Lainey Lewis — who, despite their eccentricities and crazy personal lives, are heroes to their students.
The Goldbergs spinoff had a unique path to the screen. Created by Goldbergs showrunner Adam F. Goldberg and Marc Firek, the spinoff starring Callen and Meadows landed at ABC with a script commitment in November 2016 and was picked up to pilot in February 2017. Long was set to star in the single-camera comedy about two teachers (Callen and Meadows) who become unlikely father figures to the kids at their Philadelphia school. The original pilot revolved around Glascott, now the principal, and his sister (Long), who sends her two teenage daughters (Rachel Crow, Summer Parker) to the high school where she winds up teaching.
Goldberg, Firek and Doug Robinson are executive producing the spinoff, whose original pilot was directed by Jay Chandrasekhar (The Goldbergs) and written by Firek. Firek, who has been with The Goldbergs since its start, came up with the new take for the spinoff that helped get the green light from ABC. The pickup for the spinoff comes as Sony Pictures Television Studios continues to fight for shows they believe in. Robinson also played a big role in helping to fight for the project.
The spinoff narrowly missed a series pickup at ABC last May, with producers Sony Pictures Television Studios — where Goldberg is under an overall deal — determined to find it a new home. (Hulu was said to be interested at the time, but a deal was never reached.) Goldberg — who has hours of home-movie footage from his childhood in both the 1980s and ’90s — believed in the premise and persuaded ABC to air the pilot as a special episode of The Goldbergs. (Star Wendi McLendon-Covey guest-starred, even though her kids already graduated from the school in the ’80s.) The original pilot cast included Missi Pyle and Ana Gasteyer.
“Last spring, the ’90s spinoff tested higher than the Goldbergs pilot, so I certainly had high hopes for the project,” Goldberg told The Hollywood Reporter in January. “[CBS’ already-renewed] Young Sheldon has proven that fans are very loyal and will watch a spinoff, so we are hopeful that we make a real splash when it airs so we can begin the conversation again about getting this on the air.”
ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey told THR in January that she was hopeful the spinoff would get a second chance at the network. “I’m excited because there were so many things about the pilot that I really loved and I’m excited to share that with audiences. After that, we’ll see what happens,” she said. “We have one more season of The Goldbergs. The show is doing really well for us. At the moment, I’m hopeful we have more down the road. I’m excited to see how [the spinoff] plays and what the audience’s response to it is.”
The backdoor pilot aired Jan. 24 as “The Goldbergs: 1990-Something,” scoring 6 million viewers (off 7 percent from the week prior) and a 1.7 among adults 18-49 and rating as the night’s most-watched show in the advertiser-coveted demographic. That helped fuel the discussion about a series order.
The Goldbergs is already renewed for the 2018-19 broadcast season (its sixth season overall), though it’s unclear if that will be the show’s final run. Sources say it could conceivably run beyond that, though Goldberg already knows how the series will likely end.
“The last episode is Adam’s [Sean Giambrone] high school graduation, which marks the end of his childhood,” Goldberg told THR in an October feature pegged to the show’s 100th episode. “I’d love to go beyond season six, but it will always be set in the ’80s. We have yet to run out of any videos of mine, and there’s just so much from that decade I love. And I don’t want to set it in the ’90s because I hope that one day that will be the spinoff of some sort.”
For her part, Michalka has played Lainey, best friend to Erica Goldberg (Hayley Orrantia) and former girlfriend to Barry on the flagship. She recurred in seasons one and two before being promoted to regular for three and four. She has popped in from time to time during the show’s current fifth season. Her film credits include Super 8 and The Lovely Bones. Michalka is repped by Gersh, Primary Wave Entertainment and McKuin Frankel.
The Goldbergs spinoff arrives as ABC is heading into next season knowing it could say farewell to Modern Family and potentially the 1980s-set original. This season, the Disney-owned network will wrap veteran comedy The Middle (as well as dramas Scandal and Once Upon a Time). The Goldbergs spinoff is ABC’s first new comedy series for 2018-19, joining straight-to-series dramas The Rookie (starring Nathan Fillion) and Take Two (which may air this summer). It joins a roster of returning fare including previously announced renewals for Roseanne and The Good Doctor.
Goldberg is repped by WME, Circle of Confusion and attorney Bruce Gellman. Firek, whose credits also include the original Will & Grace, Mr. Sunshine and ‘Til Death, is repped by UTA and Hansen Jacobson.
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