Tag: annie potts

“The Real O’Neals” Vs. “Family Fortune” (ABC) pilot preview: When ABC comes out… twice !

ONEALFORTUNE

THE REAL O’NEALS

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Written & Produced by David Windsor (What I Like About You, Don’t Trust the B****, Trophy Wife) & Casey Johnson (Greek, Galavant). Inspired & co-produced by Dan Savage (It Gets Better, It Got Better), with Stacy Traub (Glee), Dan McDermott (Angela’s Eyes, Human Target) & Brian Pines (Dr House). Directed by Todd Holland (Malcolm, Wonderfalls, Go On). For ABC, ABC Studios, Hypomania Content & DiBonaventura Pictures Television. 36 pages.

Description: The O’Neals picture perfect Christian family is turned upside down when the youngest son, Kenny, 16, comes out of the closet. What seems like the end of their idyllic life turns out to be the beginning of a bright new chapter when everyone stops pretending to be perfect and actually starts being real, with all their little and sometimes huge imperfections…

With Noah GalvinMartha Plimpton (Raising Hope, The Good Wife, The Goonies), Jay R. Ferguson (Mad Men, Sleeper Cell, Surface), Bebe Wood (The New Normal), Matthew Shively, Mary Hollis Inboden

FAMILY FORTUNE

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Written & produced by Fortune Feimster & Matt Hubbard (30 Rock, Parks And Recreation, Joey). Co-produced by Tina Fey (30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Satuday Night Live), David Miner (30 Rock, Parks And Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) & Robert Carlock (30 Rock, Friends, Saturday Night Live). Directed by Mark Cendrowski (The Big Bang Theory, Rules Of Engagement). For ABC, Universal Television, Little Stranger Productions & 3 Arts. 50 pages.

Description: Fortune Ferguson, a popular gym teacher in North Carolina, comes out of the closet to her close-knit group of family and friends. What she doesn’t realize is that she will also have to deal with her bickering and happily divorced parents also ‘coming out’ that they are sleeping together again…

With Fortune Feimster (Glee, Mulaney), Annie Potts (Designing Women, Any Day Now, GCB, Dangerous Minds), John Carroll Lynch (Body Of Proof, American Horror Story, The Americans, Fargo), Parker Young (Suburgatory, Enlisted), Lacey Chabert (Party of Five), Chris Redd (Empire)…

I don’t know if Paul Lee, president of ABC, is trying hard to tell us something, but he really badly wants a comedy about coming-out on the air. He decided to order both single-camera comedy pilot The Real O’Neals (briefly entitled Family of the Year), inspired by gay activist Dan Savage’s childhood, and multicamera comedy Family Fortune, based on stand-up comedian Fortune Feimster’s real life story. The good news is both are good and strong contenders for a pick-up, but the sad one is probably only one, if none, will make it to next year’s schedule. I don’t see ABC ordering both, especially since they have very little space for new comedies. Plus, competition is stiff with Nerd Herd, Delores & Jermaine and Chevy being very strong possibilities too, while Knoxville & Uncle Buck are less interesting propositions but can’t be counted out yet (and I’m not done reading all of them).

The Real O’Neals is the safer choice because it fits perfectly with ABC’s brand, alongside Modern Family, The Goldbergs and all the others. And I think the writing is a little bit stronger. The fact that the narrator is a teenage boy makes it sound like Fresh Off the Boat too, which can’t be a bad thing. Honestly, I’m already in love with these people, especially with the mother, Eileen, an always impeccably dressed woman of faith, whose passion is perfection. Some sort of new Bree Van de Kamp, if you want. And if I have troubles imagining Martha Plimpton in her shoes, I can’t wait to see the result! She couldn’t have found a more different role than this one, compared to her Raising Hope‘s Virginia. We’re talking a lot about diversity these days, and I find The Real O’Neals pretty convicing in that regard. They’re white, yes; but above all they’re christians. And it’s been a long time since we haven’t seen a christian family on TV, in a comedy that is not preachy in any way. All of their beliefs are suddenly questionned and they realize they are not the good christians they thought they were. They may even be the worst of their neighborhood. And that’s an hilarious discovery for us. Kenny’s coming-out is in fact just one event among others. And the least of their problems!

Family Fortune being a multicamera on a channel where only one has worked for a long time (Last Man Standing), a very classical one indeed (did I say Republican?), its destiny is way more uncertain, which is a shame because it deserves an order at leat for its cast. I don’t know about Fortune Feimster, haven’t seen any of her work yet, but Annie Potts+John Carroll Lynch+the hilarious Parker Young+Lacey-long time no see-Chabert, it is a big big “yes!” for me. And it’s produced by Queen Tina Fey, for Christ’s sake! I have a total trust in her instincts about Fortune Feimster. And TV definitely needs a lesbian heroin, even more if she’s not the pretty kind. That’s diversity too, guys! Outside of the coming-out part, which is dealt with really well, the sitcom is probably less original than The Real O’Neals for many reasons, especially the mother & father dynamic that we have already witnessed countless times, but it works… so much! I mean, they’re hilarious, her because she’s totally selfish, him because he’s an angry bear. I’m realizing they’re exactly like Sam’s parents in Samantha Who? for those who remember. The idiot brother is a comic genius. Damn, I love them too!

So, what will be Paul Lee’s decision? In a perfect world, he would give both a chance and the best one would win on itw own merits. Since TV is far from a perfect world, I guess The Real O’Neals has the upper hand: it’s in-house produced and less risky. Me, I decided not to choose. I love both, I want both. And it’s not me coming out as bi, hum!

Catches of the Week: it’ all about diversity! Vanessa Williams, Laverne Cox, Natalie Martinez…

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While the directors’ jobs are filled quickly, casting is tough this pilot season. Because of the increasing competition from cable and most importantly digital platforms like Netflix & Amazon, the talent pool of experienced actors is almost empty. The pressure over channels and talent agencies is higher than ever. So far, catches are not impressive. But most of them have something in common: diversity! 

NBC is very high on diversity, something they made pretty clear since their pick-ups of series Telenovela (Eva Longoria) and Shades Of Blue (Jennifer Lopez) and pilots Go, Jerrod Go!, The Curse of the Fuentes women, martial arts Warrior, and Love is a Four Letter Word. They all requires latinos, afro-americans and asian americans in lead roles.

This is how Nadine Velasquez and Cynthia McWilliams have been cast this week in the marriage drama Love is a Four Letter Word which chronicles the collision of race, sexuality and gender roles when three diverse couples put modern marriage to the test. The My Name is Earl alumna will play play Rebecca, a Cuban American who is deeply in love with Julie and very happy with their marriage, but doesn’t realize her wife is actively considering getting back together with her ex, Nick. McWilliams will play Tandi, one half of a happy couple with a young son who is experiencing difficulties fulfilling her dream of having another child. Hot Adan Canto, seen in The Following and Mixology, got the part of the mysterious man who brings the Curse to the Fuentes women in the pilot from Ugly Betty creator Silvio Horta. Natalie Martinez, most recently seen in Under The Dome, will star in Warrior as Kai Forrester, a damaged heroine who works undercover with physical and spiritual guidance from a mysterious martial arts master to bring down an international crime lord. Finally veteran S. Epatha Merkerson from Law & Order is reuniting with producer Dick Wolfe with a lead role in the Chicago Fire and Chicago PD planted spin-off Chicago Med. She will be the head of the hopistal.

LAVERNE

In other diversity casting news, Vanessa Williams from Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives will play the bold and unapologetic new boss of Kevin Connolly (Entourage) in comedy pilot Fantasy Life for FOX, where Mitch (Connolly) lands his ultimate dream job hosting a fantasy football show, he’s forced to navigate office politics while becoming the star he never thought he could be. Asian American actor Daniel Henney has joined the Untitled Criminal Minds spin-off with Gary Sinise & Anna Gunn. Last but really not least, Laverne Cox, discovered in Orange is the new black, got the part of a transgender attorney in Reasonable Doubt for CBS. If the show is ordered to series, then she’ll become the first transgender regular character on broadcast TV, which is exciting and groundbreaking.

In other non-diversity news (!), cancelled Perception‘s star Eric McCormack, pursued for different roles, will star in musical drama pilot Studio City for FOX, where he’ll play the songwriter father of a young singer who’s trying to make it big in Hollywood, but the man turns out to be a drug dealer to the stars! Ex-Breaking Bad actress Betsy Brandt wants to prove she can be funny after the Michael J. Fox Show demise, so she accepted one of the female leads in CBS’ Life In Pieces comedy pilot, with Colin Hanks playing one of her siblings. David Lyons (Revolution, The Cape) toplines drama pilot Game Of Silence, which NBC is very high on. Sweet Zach Gildford (Friday Night Lights, Off The Map), coming off Stanistan‘s pilot USA Network sadly just decided not to pick-up to series, lands on ABC in soap pilot Flesh & Blood. Finally, excellent Annie Potts & John Carroll Lynch will play the heroine’s parents in comedy pilot Family Fortune for ABC, where the central character comes out to her family.