Elton John is feeling the love tonight from ABC, which has greenlit his TV pilot “Him and Us.”
Single-camera comedy, which has been in the works for a year (Daily Variety, Nov. 4, 2004), revolves around relationships between the fictional rock star Max Slash and the people near him — including manager Freddy Lazarus.
John — who recently completed his latest “The Red Piano” residency at Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace — and longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin have signed on to write original music for the series; the early pickup will now allow them time to come up with a wide swath of music for the pilot.
The pilot, which reps John’s first foray into primetime series TV, was the brainchild of longtime John confidant and business manager Bob Halley. The Slash character isn’t only based on John, but amalgam of “male divas” such as Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart and David Bowie.
After kicking around the idea for years, John and Halley got serious about it a year or so ago and brought in songwriter Bruce Roberts, who in turn contacted his friend Michael Edelstein (“Desperate Housewives”).
Edelstein, in turn, tapped “Sex and the City” alum Cindy Chupack to pen the show. John, Halley, Roberts, Chupack and Edelstein are all onboard as exec producers.
“Cindy wrote a phenomenal script,” Edelstein said. “Steve McPherson and his team at ABC and Mark Pedowitz at Touchstone were so behind the project that they moved quickly and early.”
The producers have spent the past year developing a full history for the Slash character, including a back catalog of music spanning the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and today.
“Him and Us” is also the title of a song from John’s recent CD “Peachtree Road”; he wrote the track specifically for the TV project.
John wrote the music (with Lee Hall) to the successful London stage production of “Billy Elliot” and teamed with Taupin to complete the score to the musical “Lestat,” which hits Broadway early next year.