'Producers' thesp's involvement helps greenlight pilot
Jason Alexander’s going to be a dad.
Former “Seinfeld” thesp is heading to CBS, pacting with producer Lindy DeKoven and Regency Television for a half-hour family comedy based on the writings of Washington Post journo Tony Kornheiser.
Project represents a departure for Alexander, who after years of playing larger-than-life characters with little sense of responsibility will portray a married father of two.
Eye ordered a pilot for the project from scribe Jeff Martin (“The Simpsons”) a year ago. Project — tentatively dubbed “Shut Up and Listen”– rolled to this season, and Alexander’s attachment has triggered a greenlight from the network.
Project will reunite Alexander with “Seinfeld” helmer Andy Ackerman, who will direct and produce the pilot. DeKoven — the former head of longform for ABC– and Martin will exec produce, with Alexander producing and Kornheiser aboard as a consultant. Regency comedy topper Erin Simon Berenson will oversee the studio’s interest in the project.
Alexander’s starring in the L.A. production of “The Producers” through Jan. 3, but it’s possible the pilot may shoot before then so the skein may be considered for midseason. A fall launch is more likely, however.
As part of Alexander’s deal, negotiated before he joined the Regency-DeKoven project, CBS has included a development component that kicks in if the pilot is not picked up.
Skein features Alexander as a TV journo with very defined opinions and sensibilities who also is trying to raise his kids with his wife.
“It’s not trying to do something incredibly new and different,” he said. “(But) I go into this saying, ‘This is a good show.’ It’s good material and has the potential to really grow and be a lovely, funny, touching unique show.”
Alexander’s last series, ABC’s “Bob Patterson,” was canceled after five episodes, but Alexander said the experience didn’t sour him on the small screen.
“I love doing TV and I love half-hour comedies,” Alexander said. “It was a question of finding a partner that wanted to have me back on the air.”
He said CBS topper Leslie Moonves’ history of letting things grow, a la “Everybody Loves Raymond,” also attracted him to the Eye.
“It was important to have someone who believed in me and knew that it takes time to do something well,” he said. “(And) this was a character who really appealed to me. He has great differences from Bob and George (Costanza) in that he’s a family man with a job, and yet, he still lives large. He’s got histrionics and a large sense of humor, and that seems to fit well for me.”
While getting a greenlight for the project took some time, DeKoven saidher patience –and the Eye’s — will pay off.
“I believe we have a great concept and a great script, and having Jason will only make it better,” she said. “This is a great vehicle for Jason, as we haven’t seen him in a parental role, and believe this will provide an opportunity for the audience to see a whole other side of him.
DeKoven’s shingle produced last spring’s Delta Burke pilot for the WB.
Alexander’s repped by UTA and Michael Gendler.