Showtime picks up full season of pot laffer
Showtime is high on “Weeds.”
Pay cabler has picked up a full season of the Lions Gate TV-produced comedy pilot toplining Mary-Louise Parker as a mom who makes her living selling marijuana.
Ten-episode order for “Weeds,” which includes the pilot, marks the second comedy to be greenlit by entertainment prexy Robert Greenblatt. Exec committed to the seven-episode Kirstie Alley starrer “Fat Actress” in July.
Jenji Kohan (“Friends”) wrote the pilot episode for “Weeds” and exec produces. Brian Dannelly (“Saved!”) directed the pilot and serves as a producer. Danielle Gelber is the creative exec for Showtime. Production is slated to begin in March for a target airdate in mid-2005.
Story centers on a suburban mother who resorts to selling weed to keep up with the Joneses after her husband dies unexpectedly. Elizabeth Perkins plays the perky PTA president whose son gets involved with the daughter of Parker’s character. Kevin Nealon also stars as a city councilman.
Greenblatt said that while the show bears some similarities to suburban-set “Desperate Housewives,” he hopes auds will look beyond the hook.
“I don’t think ‘Weeds’ will seem derivative once people see it. I think there are plenty of people struggling with suburban life and that there are a number of different interpretations of that,” Greenblatt said. “The show is sort of audacious with the pot-selling, but once you get past that, there is a cast of complex characters and ultimately a lot of heart and family values.”
Topper is expected to announce the addition of at least one other comedy skein and two hourlong drama pickups by early next year.
“Weeds” was among six pilots ordered in May vying for a 2005 slot. Among them still are Richard Pryor half-hour “Pryor Offenses” and “What’s Not to Love,” from Jonathan Ames and “Huff” exec producer Mike Newell. In addition, the cabler is also considering a series spinoff of the feature film “Barbershop.”
On the drama front, there is terrorist drama “The Cell,” from writer-exec producers Cyrus Voris and Ethan Reiff (“Bulletproof Monk”); “Hate,” about the NYPD’s real-life hate crimes unit, from Paris Barclay and James DeMonaco; and Blake Masters’ “The Brotherhood,” about two powerful brothers — one a gangster, the other a politician.
A decision on a third season pickup for “Dead Like Me” is forthcoming, Greenblatt said.