Asner goes to ‘Alley’

Ed Asner and Felicity Huffman have been cast as father and daughter in “Thunder Alley”– the ABC midseason sitcom from Wind Dancer Production Group, virtually assured a slot adjacent to that company’s blockbuster hit “Home Improvement.”

Asner, who’s appeared in various series since his back-to-back stints — totaling 12 years — on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Lou Grant,” will play a retired race-car driver, running a successful garage, whose divorced daughter and three kids move in with him.

Jim Beaver, who had a recurring role recently on “Reasonable Doubts,” will play Asner’s sidekick. Barnet Kellman has been tapped to direct the prototype, which tapes next week.

The series is the first under a uniquely structured two-series deal between ABC and Wind Dancer, whose principals are Matt Williams (also the creator of “Roseanne”), Carmen Finestra and David McFadzean.

Disney, which previously had an overall deal with Wind Dancer, will serve as distributor on the two series, while ABC will finance the shows and hold a financial interest in them. The assumption is that “Alley”– which carries a substantial penalty if not ordered as a series — will be slotted either leading into or following “Improvement,” now TV’s top-rated series.

Several actors, including James Garner and Richard Crenna, were reportedly considered for the part, coveted as a plum role because of Wind Dancer’s creative cache and clout at the network.

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