Tag: kenya barris

Unit Zero (ABC) pilot preview: Revenge of the badass lady nerds

Written and produced by Lindsey Shockley (Blackish, Benched, Trophy Wife). Executive produced by Kenya Barris (Blackish, The Game) & Toni Collette. Directed by David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Vince Principals, Kenny Powers). 59 pages. Network 3rd Revised Draft 1/29/17. For ABC Studios.

Description: Jackie Fink, an unassuming CIA engineer and single mom, is chosen to be the leader of a team of CIA underlings who are thrust into the field as first time spies. Each week, this team of zeroes races against the clock to gather intelligence and solve cases of national security. And they succeed partly because no one in their right mind would ever suspect they were spies. Overlooked in the workplace, their invisibility makes them perfect for the most covert missions…

With Toni Collette (Hostages, United States of Tara, Little Miss Sunshine, Muriel’s Wedding), Rob Huebel (Children’s Hospital, Transparent), Kimberly Hébert Gregory (Vice Principals, Devious Maids), Peter Cambor (NCIS Los Angeles, Roadies, Grace and Frankie), Dana Powell (Modern Family, Suburgatory)…



You’ll like it if you already like: Kingsman, Agent Carter, Scorpion, Quantico… 

Likely timeslot: Sunday at 8 or 9; Tuesday at 10; Wenesday at 10


Writer and producer Kenya Barris -who co-created America’s Next Top Model back in the day- is on fire! His comedy Blackish is winning major awards, his comedy pilot Libby & Malcolm starring Felicity Huffman & Courtney B. Vance looks like a sure thing for a series order (read the preview here), a Blackish spin-off is in the works (but I don’t think ABC should move forward with it) and now comes Unit Zero, a hour-long dramedy with Toni Collette he executive produces that looks like another winner… even if it’s about losers. Is the alphabet network, where he is under an overall deal, trying to turn him into their comedic Shonda Rhimes? He has found his own style -making political statement and starting a conversation while being funny- and might have two hours of programming next year. That’s a really good start.

At its core, this show is about outsiders, those of us who don’t fit in. It celebrates everything that’s beautiful about being different” said creator Lindsey Shockley about Unit Zero when the project was sold to ABC last summer. And she’s not lying. That is exactly why I found this pilot script so refreshing, apart from the fact that you don’t stumble upon a show labeled as an action spy dramedy every day. Those characters are instantly endearing and special, starting with our heroine, Jackie Fink, who just gave birth in her forties. And now she’s stuck with the father, who was just a one-night stand she’s not in love with (yet?). She’s a whip smart nerd with an unsinkable spirit and a beautiful mess. She’s perfect for Toni Collette, who already proved in United States of Tara she’s able to play anything and everything with brilliance.

Then there’s Brianna, her fearless (black) best friend, looks tough but hides a lot of pain inside; Azeema, a young foxy Muslim-American college freshman who’s just starting as an intern in the CIA; Midge, an overweight delightful woman in her late fifties who was an olympic biathlete in her youth; and finally the man of the team, Phineas, a tone deaf genius who’s (not so) secretly in love with Jackie who (not so) secretly doesn’t really care. With its female-fueled cast, Unit Zero pulls back the curtain on what it’s like to be a woman in a historically male-dominated field, showing underrepresented voices. And that’s another reason why it’s unusual and enthusiastic.

This character-based procedural with strong serialized elements doesn’t take itself too seriously, constantly deflecting highly dangerous situations with humor. They’re all very funny in their own way and their world is bigger than life, as are their crazy (unrealistic?) high-tech inventions they test in the field. The action scenes are insan. Jackie slaloming through traffic is something I definitely want to see. Especially since she’s wearing a jet-black punk wig, a leather skirt and combat boots so she can be mistaken for a badass hacker called “Lonelyheart”, dominatrix style, right in the middle of Acapulco with a cartel running behind her car.

Everything moves fast and in style. Think the movie Kingsman (with a lesser budget probably). Music plays an important role with classic energetic hits like “Dancing with Myself” by The Donnas in the opening sequence. The whole point of the pilot is to asemble the team after Jackie made a huge mistake her first day back in the office that could threaten her future in the CIA. They all decide to help her. The rest is history! Despite everything that’s happening, the emotions in there are real and it makes the show very complete.

Unit Zero is a joyful and thrilling ride alongside characters you can only root for who will move you, make you laugh hard and think a little. Suddenly, “action spy dramedy” is a thing, a thing that you’ll like and want. Will it be a hit for ABC? It surely looks like one. 

Libby & Malcolm (ABC) pilot preview: Give it the “Best Comedy” Emmy Award already!

Written and produced by Kenya Barris (Blackish, The Game, Are we there yet?) & Vijal Patel (Blackish, The Middle). Also produced by Felicity Huffman & E. Brian Dobbins (The Sea of Trees). 37 pages. Network draft 11/28/16. For ABC Studios, Principato-Young Entertainment &  Khalabo Ink Society.

Description: Two opposing pundits also happen to be married. One’s black, one’s white; one’s left, one’s right. Bitter rivals at work on their own political talk show Black & Wright, Libby & Malcolm have to turn conflict into compromise at home when it comes to raising their kids…

With Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives, American Crime, Sports Night, Transamerica), Courtney B. Vance (American Crime Story, Law & Order Criminal Intent, Flashforward, 12 Angry Men), Gary Cole (The Good Wife, Veep, The West Wing), James Lesure (Las Vegas, Men at Work, Liptstick Jungle), Caitlin McGee, Monique Green, Sayeed Shahidi (Uncle Buck), Jahi Di’allo Winston


You’ll like it if you already like: Modern Family, Blackish, Veep

Likely timeslot: wednesday, 9.30 after Modern Family.

Libby & Malcolm
was the first official order for the 2017 broadcast pilot season, it is the first script review I’m writing this year and it is undoubtedly the best comedy script in years! No surprise there was a bidding war among the networks to get it, especially with Felicity Huffman attached to star. And there was no better place for it than ABC quite frankly. It is the perfect combination between your regular family comedy with smart and hilarious parents and kids in the same vein as Modern Family and other ABC hits, your workplace comedy set behind the scenes of a television show like 30 Rock and your spicy political comedy that takes a very real look at how today’s “politics of division” play out. It couldn’t be more topical after the election of Donald Trump. It is the right comedy in the right place at the right time. And it’s already an Emmy Award contender for best comedy, best actress in a comedy and best actor in a comedy!

What’s brilliant with this show in the first place is how much it exists in the real world, the one we’re all living in, and in the now. At the beginning, there are images of glaciers collapsing, Syria, abandoned Detroit houses, cop shootings… Yeah yeah, it’s a comedy but it doesn’t shy away from the important topics and the real politics. It’s about the current and the future administration. Obama takes hits. Trump takes hits. Voters themselves take hits. And it’s not just about America. It’s about the whole world. It should resonate everywhere. What they experience over there is what we experience over here, and there and there. And it’s not boring. Fear not!

On the contrary. It’s funny all the time. It’s always sharp and clever. Tasteful. It can be ferocious too. Those two can get pretty nasty. You laugh and you think, and you think about why you’re laughing, maybe you even laugh about what you’re thinking. It creates debate. It places ideas at the center of it all. For example, during Libby & Malcolm talk show, there’s a led board of a light square hopping around various hot button issues, from very serious ones -LGBT rights, recycling- to lighter ones -sports team names- then they have to talk about the topic chosen with their guest, who’s Jon Hamm in the pilot (and yes, there’s a joke about his scrotch!). It’s very efficient and should be used as a gimmick in every episode. It will help the show stay relevant and close to reality. We also meet their producer, Randal Martin, a 60-year old complete narcissist, possibly racist, whose every line is hilarious; and Zev, their assistant, a techno journalist in her thirties who must be a lesbian according to Randal because she has a short hair cut. They’re all very promising. The pilot is filled with other guests (maybe a bit a too many?) like Tom Bergeron, Ryan Seacrest and Bill Maher, playing themselves.

The Black and Wright family is definitely a modern one. Malcolm, confident and cocky, had three children with his deceased wife: MJ, a sweet but neurotic 7 year-old boy, Cassius, 11, smart and cool, and Naya, 14, super-opiniated, “a pitbull” in a skirt, who hates Libby. Libby is their white step mom, a bright, beautiful, and bossy woman, who was already married once. Libby and Malcolm met not that long ago, they hated each other before falling in love and they decided to marry and live together very quickly. Now they are doing their best to be good parents while they are in the spotlight. Felicity Huffman & Courtney B. Vance will probably make a great couple. And Huffman has literally chemistry with everyone -that’s how good she is- so there is no doubt about it. They have plenty of top-notch dialogues to help them do so, and even some “walk and talk” scenes, made popular by The West Wing. And in case you’re wondering, there are also very sweet moments with the kids towards the end, the kind that can make you cry juste like that. Yes, there’s eveything we could hope for in this pilot. Everything!

In the end, Libby & Malcolm is about finding strength and answers through our differences, whether they are political or personal. It’s about unity. And unity is exactly what is missing in this sad sad world. It gives reflection, hope and fun. There are not so many comedies like that on television right now, let alone on a network. The next great comedy is here. And we’re ready for it.

SCOOP: “Libby & Malcolm” comedy starring Felicity Huffman nearing pilot order at ABC

Felicity Huffman Wallpaper @ go4celebrity.com


2ND UPDATE: The pilot order is now official !

UPDATE: And now, ABC has cast Courtney B. Vance (American Crime Story) as the male lead.

After ordering 8-episode miniseries Marvel’s Inhumans for fall 2017, ABC is working hard on their pilot pick-ups and the first one to get the nod in the comedy department is expected to be “Libby & Malcolm” from “Blackish” creator…

Starring Desperate Housewives & American Crime Emmy-winning actress Felicity Huffman, the political family comedy project received a big commitment from the alphabet network last september, said to be “one of the biggest half-hour sales this season” per Deadline. It’s already one hell of a contender for a series pick-up! Written and executive produced by Kenya Barris (Blackish) & Vijal Patel (The Middle, Blackish) for ABC Studios, Principato-Young Entertainment &  Khalabo Ink Society, Libby & Malcolm revolves around two opposing pundits who also happen to be married. One’s black, one’s white; one’s left, one’s right. Bitter rivals at work on their pundit show Black & Wright, they have to turn conflict into compromise at home when it comes to raising their kids.

Of course, Felicity Huffman will play the mother. The father has yet to be cast. The shooting of the pilot may potentially start as soon as mid-january 2017 in Los Angeles. Expect an official announcement in the next few weeks. What does it mean for the other project Felicity Huffman was supposed to star in, dark comedic fashion soap House of Moore? She is no longer attached to it but it remains in development.

Kenya Barris could get a second pilot order this pilot season since his other project for ABC, spy dramedy Unit Zero starring Toni Collette, is exactly what the network is looking for: a character-based procedural…