Tag: tina fey

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



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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


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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!

ABC not done yet with its orders! 2 more comedies are in the oven…


As it turns out, ABC is ordering more pilots than it was announced (meaning a lot of cancellations are coming in May?). They now have 12 comedy pilots and 13 drama pilots ordered! Here are the two new additions, produced by Universal Television.

First one is their second multicamera effort of the pilot season after Delores & Jermaine. It’s also their second coming out story after the Untitled Dan Savage project. They probably won’t order both in the end. Family Fortune follows a popular gym teacher in Georgia who 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. It is based on comedian Fortune Feimster’s life, a favorite of ABC and Tina Fey. She was meant to be the star of a project called Discounted two years ago, for ABC; and she was one of the heroines of previous Tina Fey pilot for FOX, Cabot College, which sadly wasn’t picked ut to series after all.

Second one is the much talked about reboot of John Hughes’s classical movie Uncle Buck, which was already adapted for TV in 1990 and ran for one season only on CBS. This time, it is written by Steven Cragg and Brian Bradley, previously consulting producers on Scrubs and Happy Endings. Uncle Buck will center on a childish man who learns how to be an adult by taking care of his brother’s kids in a very childish way.

Note Deadline reported on Friday a pick-up for a comedy called Dr Ken, starring Community‘s Ken Jeong, but the news disappeared quickly. Did ABC change its mind or is it just delayed? Keep in mind the actor is already the star of a show in the works for MTV called Ken Jeong made me do it. The explanation must come from there…




“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix) preview: Unmissable comedy here!

"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"

Written and produced by Robert Carlock (Friends, Joey, 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live) & Tina Fey (30 Rock, Saturday Night Live, Mean Girls). Co-produced by David Miner (30 Rock, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Parks And Recreation). Directed by Tristram Shapeero (Community, Parks And Recreation). Originally ordered by NBC. 2-seasons pick-up by Netflix. For NBC Universal Television & Little Stranger. 39 pages.

Description: Kidnapped as a teenager, Kimmy spent 15 years in a cult, surrounded by four other girls of her age, thinking she was one of the few survivors of the Apocalypse. The day she is finally released, it’s a whole new world that opens up to her, filled with infinite possibilities and many first times. Before her dazzled and innocent eyes, New York is gigantic and it’s the place where she is determined to rebuild her life, even if she has no idea what she wants to do next…

With Ellie Kemper (The Office, Bridesmaids), Titus Burgess (30 Rock), Sara Chase, Lauren Adams


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Let’s just start with a little story. Once upon a time, there was a GREAT script, written by a very funny fairy lady named Tina Fey, ordered to series without even going to pilot stage by a not so great channel named NBC, struggling to find its next hit comedy. Thinking Ellie Kemper might become the next IT girl of TV after testing her for many years on The Office –their last hit comedy actually- they offered to her the role of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. It was actually wrote for her. Enlightened by its brilliance, she just couldn’t refuse. They started to shoot the show. Everybody loved it. But there was an incy wincy itsy bisty tiny little problem: they had no confidence in their own schedule and could not find any right spot to fit it in. So they decided to do the unthinkable: they abandon their child prodigy! They gave it to a big bad wolf named Netflix. The end of this story has yet to be written but here is the moral anyway: sometimes you have to let your child go if you want him to grow. And I can promise you one thing: Kimmy Schmidt will grow beautifully without NBC.

In case you haven’t understood it yet: I LOVE Kimmy Schmidt. I love her freshness, I love her innocence, I love the boldness she does’nt even know she has, and most of all: I love the breath of life she’s kindly offering to anyone who is able to catch it. The pilot script is great, yes. But the potential series it might become is even greater! The show starts in an amazing way. Inspired by a true story, an atrocious one actually, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is kind enough to be funny right away. In one scene with a quick and quite frankly improbable twist of fate, we are witnessing the release of the five young women. They were about to celebrate Christmas by offering small handmade gifts to each other. Then they are singing funny lyrics. Yes, it is the opening credits already, a Broadway musical kind of one (I hope they sticked to this plan). Next thing you know: they are at the 30 Rock in New York. You see what they did there, right? Do I need to explain? 30 Rock. NBC. Tina Fey. Yep. Exactly.

I won’t tell you what happens in the pilot scene by scene, you’ll discover all of this soon enough, but I will say there is Matt Lauer involved, and it’s hilarious; that each girl is funny in her own way; that our leading lady is adorable from the get go, you want to her hug all the time; that justice is apparently very quick in the parallel universe they live in; that New York is still this incredible city you want to live and die in; that big black gay men are always funny; and that when you want to lose your virginity, going to a nightclub is not the best plan. At all.

The script ends with a side note from the authors where they explain what the show profoundly means for them, that “It’s the ultimate ‘starting over story “, major topics to be discussed later, the guests they would like to attract (Jane Krakowski, Bill Hader, Frances McDormand …). They even give a few examples of intrigues to come, some characters who will cross paths with Kimmy. And here is how they describe her, I find it beautiful: “She is not unlike Mary Tyler Moore or Hannah Horvath, she has just more extreme set of circumstances. She is part pure innocent but she’s also part wily survivor, like a young John McCain.”

The pilot of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is the promise of an absolute charming, infinitely touching, refreshing and amusing comedy, where you can enjoy the peculiar tone of Tina Fey, with bits of Liz Lemon, references to pop culture, and all these things that made us fall in love with her. There is a great potential there to go into a new delirium each week. It doesn’t respond to any rules we are used to. And that’s probably why it feels much more like a cable show than a network one. It inspires freedom all the way. That’s unmissable TV.