Vet jets for 5-show BBC deal
Caryn Mandabach, one of the producers behind comedy hits “The Cosby Show” and “Roseanne,” has signed a development deal with the BBC to make five sitcoms for the pubcaster.She will set up a U.K. company, Caryn Mandabach Prods., which will retain ownership of all projects and their respective formats. The BBC will fund Mandabach, but has not revealed the figures. She will work with BBC head of comedy commissioning Mark Freeland, and already has one script in development with “Men Behaving Badly” scribe-creator Simon Nye. “I’ve been a fan of British comedy for all my career, and I’m overjoyed to have the opportunity to work with so many great artists and for such a legendary institution,” Mandabach said. “Some people are cigar aficionados — I’m a Britcom aficionado.” Mandabach said she was also drawn to a change in ownership rules in the country. Independent producers can now own as much as 50% of a project. Freeland said: “The BBC is delighted to be in business with someone as uniquely dynamic and productive as Caryn. “With her brilliant track record and nose for mainstream hits, we hope that she will complement all the work we already do with U.K. comedy talent.” Mandabach ankled as partner at Carsey-Werner-Mandabach in August, after more than 20 years with the company. It was there that she developed a greater flavor for British sitcoms. Carsey-Werner’s first laffer, 1983’s “Oh Madeline,” was based on the U.K. comedy “Pig in the Middle.” Mandabach also runs a U.S.-based independent production company. Under her new shingle, she has sold HBO a script to be written by Maya Forbes (“The Larry Sanders Show”) and Catherine Tate, who has won the British Comedy newcomer and Royal Television Society newcomer awards. Mandabach is working on a project for FX and will exec produce Carsey-Werner Films and Strike Entertainment’s “You Are Going to Prison,” a project set up before she left C-W-M. Additionally, Mandabach has signed on with the Media Guardian to write a series of columns about the difference between U.S. and U.K. television. The producer said her U.K. company would focus on projects that make sense for Brit auds; she has no plans to redevelop those shows for the States. “The trick is to respect the audience, and the intention is to produce shows serving the British public,” she said. “Very few (U.S. translations of hit U.K. shows) work,” she said. She is the latest American to jump the Pond to work with the BBC. Fred Barron, whose credits as a writer and exec producer include “Seinfeld” and “The Larry Sanders Show,” created “My Family” for the BBC with a team of local writers after U.S. webs turned the sitcom down. He made six series of “My Family” with production outfit DL Taffner, and left the show in 2003 to go native as the BBC’s first inhouse showrunner. Barron also created the U.K.’s “According to Bex,” which is being adapted for CBS as “Everything I Know About Men.”
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