Nick at Nite has partnered with “Seinfeld” scribe Carol Leifer on an original sitcom — the network’s first stab at a laffer in more than 15 years.
Kickstarting the half-hour biz will be “The Darlene Westgor Project,” a “Roseanne”-style laffer based on the life of Westgor, who won Nick at Nite’s “Search for the Funniest Mom in America” last year. Westgor will star as herself in the pilot, to be directed by sitcom helmer Gil Junger.
Nick at Nite senior VP of programming Sal Maniaci called “Westgor” the next “primetime domestic goddess. There’s something very real about her that I think people will relate to,” he said.
Leifer, who was a judge for the “Funniest Mom” contest last year, will serve as an exec producer.
In addition to a cash prize, Westgor won a deal to try to develop a series for Nick at Nite.
“She reminds me of Roseanne before she was discovered,” Leifer said. “Darlene has that same clear point of view and a very dry, take-charge kind of attitude.”
Pilot will follow a typical day in the harried life of Westgor as she goes from parenting two teenagers to work at an emergency center in the suburbs. Her kids, neighbors and hospital colleagues will weave their way into the storylines.
Maniaci noted “Westgor” is among the more expensive programming commitments Nick at Nite has made. Cabler’s previous original efforts include the hidden-camera show “Hi-Jinks” and animated series “Fatherhood.”
“This is a big step for us, financially and creatively,” he said.
Both Nick at Nite and sister net TV Land have been making gradual strides in the original programming arena since 2003. Nick at Nite is in the middle of a new cycle of “Funniest Mom.” Cabler expanded the one-hour special into a six-part reality series that bowed last month. Skein will culminate with a winner crowned on Mother’s Day weekend.
Elsewhere at MTV Networks, Logo has greenlit six episodes of “The Big Gay Show,” a sketch show from exec producers Rosie O’Donnell, Dan MacDonald and Joe Del Hierro. Amanda Bearse (“Mad TV”) will direct several episodes, slated to premiere later this year. Cast includes Erica Ash, Dion Flynn, Julie Goldman, Stephen Guarino, Johnny McGovern, Kate McKinnon, Nicole Paone and Michael Serrato.