UPN has greenlit an 11th-hour comedy pilot inspired by the lives of former “Conan O’Brien” scribe Andrew Secunda and his sister, UTA agent Ruthanne Secunda.
Cast-contingent pilot finally got the go-ahead last week after Charisma Carpenter (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) signed on to play Sarah, the role inspired by Ruthanne, while Tyler Labine (“My Boss’s Daughter”) was tapped as Alex, the character based on Andrew.
Paramount Network TV, the Littlefield Co. and Nervous Properties are behind the untitled Andrew Secunda project; Warren Littlefield and Adam Chase (“Friends”) will exec produce, while Secunda will co-exec produce.
The pilot presentation’s official logline describes the show as a “comedy about an uptight, career-minded woman and her fun-loving brother.”
Idea for the laffer took root last fall, when Andrew came to Los Angeles for the Emmy Awards and crashed at Ruthanne’s place. It was supposed to be a quick visit — until Ruthanne fell down and broke her ribs.
Andrew wound up staying with Ruthanne for months, helping her out as she regained her health.
The catch: Ruthanne actively works with animal adoption, serving on the board of directors as exec VP of the Much Love Animal Rescue foundation. With Ruthanne temporarily incapacitated, Andrew had to step in.
“He had to stay with me and take care of my animals,” Ruthanne said. “He got sucked into it all. The two of us eventually drove each other crazy. And in a role reversal, he became the caretaker in our relationship.”
Andrew had been working on a sitcom pitch about a boyfriend and girlfriend; he and Ruthanne quickly realized that concept should be revised to reflect their own quirky sibling relationship.
“Lo and behold, the reality of it was playing out in front of us,” she said. “So we pitched it together.”
Project is only loosely based on the pair: Carpenter’s character is a corporate attorney, rather than an agent, for example.
The Secundas originally set the project up at Universal, which later passed; UPN then quickly got Viacom sibling Paramount on board.
Carpenter’s other credits include “Angel” and the telepic “See Jane Date,” while Labine also appeared in the series “That Was Then.”
Meanwhile, in other casting news, Johnny Sneed (“First Daughter”) has joined the cast of ABC’s untitled Earthquake project as Steve.
The Touchstone/Tollin-Robbins project stars comedian Earthquake as a family man struggling to raise four kids with his wife. Les Firestein, David Himelfarb, Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins, Joe Davola and David Goldman exec produce.