Court date for pilot

Lovitz a jokey justice for NBC's 'Bad Judge'

Gavin Polone has recruited Jon Lovitz to star in the unscripted comedy pilot “Bad Judge” for NBC.

A takeoff on “Judge Judy” and the myriad courtroom clones that clutter daytime, “Bad Judge” will have former “Saturday Night Live” star Lovitz presiding over actual cases, meting out “justice” as he sees fit.

“The logline is ‘The cases are real. The decision is final. The judge is nuts,'” Polone said.

Idea came from scribe Josh Lieb (“Big Stan”), who’ll exec produce the pilot with Polone and Pariah partner Jamie Tarses. Lovitz, who worked with Lieb on “NewsRadio,” will also serve as a producer, as will Pariah’s Kathy Landsberg.

Polone said Lovitz will play a “heightened” version of himself, not unlike Larry David’s portrayal of himself on the Polone-produced “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

“Jon on the show will be capricious and moody and witty,” Polone said. “His point of view will correspond more with what viewers are thinking. He’s not constrained by things like the rule of law.”

While Lovitz won’t be operating with a script, he’s looking forward to flexing the character acting muscles he honed on “Saturday Night Live.”

“I can basically do any character I want,” he said. “I get to improvise and be funny the way that I’m funny. I could say to (a plaintiff), ‘Clearly, you’re right, but she’s hotter,’ and side with her.”

Lovitz said he doesn’t plan to parody the TV judges now on the air.

“I don’t want to do what they do,” he said. “They just talk down to people like they’re a dog or a bad child.”

Pariah has begun the process of finding real people with legal gripes to appear in the pilot, hiring vets of actual courtshows to conduct a search. A bailiff and court stenographer are yet to be cast.

“Bad Judge” was first pitched to nets and syndicators two years ago, but last-minute snags prevented a deal from closing. Polone said he and Tarses casually revived the idea during a pitch meeting with Peacock execs for another project.

Lieb and Pariah are currently partnered on the David O. Russell country club project set up at FX (Daily Variety, Sept. 18).

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