NEW YORK — Jennifer Lopez has made a deal with NBC to star in and produce a special this fall, her first regular TV involvement since she began her career dancing in the Flygirl ensemble of Fox comedy series “In Living Color.”
She will produce three additional specials for the network and develop a half-hour sitcom based on her family and upbringing in the Bronx. The specs and sitcom will be produced through her Nuyorican Prods. banner along with Handprint Entertainment’s Benny Medina, Jeff Pollack and David Guillod.
At the same time, Lopez, who’s already planning to star in Warner Bros.’ Tony Scott-directed drama “Taking Lives” and the Columbia thriller “Tick Tock,” is in talks to topline “One,” a romantic film that has been scripted by Nick Kazan for Lakeshore Entertainment’s Tom Rosenberg and Gary Lucchesi.
The TV deal was the brainchild of Jeff Gaspin, the former VH1 executive who recently became exec VP of alternative series and specials for NBC Entertainment. After developing a strong relationship with Lopez through the music channel, he wasted no time bringing her into the Peacock fold.
“When I got to NBC, I knew that Jennifer had just had a No. 1 selling album and top-grossing film in the same week, but that she’d never had a TV special,” said Gaspin. “We got her manager Benny involved, got her record label and Tommy Mottola involved, and then it grew into several specials and the series.”
Initial special, which will focus on her current top-selling album “J.Lo,” will be similar to musical network showcases done for the likes of Faith Hill, the Dixie Chicks and Madonna. Future specs will likely feature other artists.
“I can’t wait to see what Jennifer will wear,” said Gaspin.
Pollack and Medina were the architects behind the long-running series that launched Will Smith, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Medina said there’s plenty of material for the sitcom just from the many stories Lopez has told them of growing up in a tight-knit Puerto Rican family in the Bronx, with her mom, dad and grandparents trying to keep three exceptionally attractive daughters on the right path. One sister, Leslie, is raising a family of her own, while Lopez’s other sister, Linda, is a VH1 veejay and does local radio and TV work in New York.
“Jennifer tells hilarious stories about growing up all the time, and a show like this, a neighborhood comedy involving a family in a multicultural environment, with an engaging point of view and voice, is something NBC has put an emphasis on,” said Medina, who with Pollack and the network will now engage a showrunner to hone the concept and script the pilot. “Jennifer will be very hands on as an executive producer, as this show is truly born out of her personal experiences.”
Lopez, who launched a clothing line this fall and will tour her “J.Lo” album in 2002, is busy on the feature side as well. She’ll next be seen in the Luis Mandoki-directed drama “Angel Eyes” opening May 18, and she is currently starring with Billy Campbell and Noah Wyle in the Michael Apted-directed “Enough,” a drama script by Nick Kazan. The Kazan-scripted Lakeshore pic “One” looms as a future project, a romance with supernatural overtones. Lopez, who’s expected to topline both “Taking Lives” and “Tick Tock” before that film, is agented by ICM.