Fox an 'Under' achiever
Bernie Mac is reuniting with Fox, signing on to star in a new laffer from “Drew Carey Show” creator Bruce Helford.
Half-hour — tentatively titled “Starting Under” — comes from Warner Bros. TV, where earlier this summer Helford renewed his studio vows, sealing a hefty new two-year overall deal.
Fox scored the comedy after a fierce bidding war. Net gave a substantial series commitment to the untitled laffer (believed to be seven episodes), making it one of the biggest — if not the biggest — comedy deals of the now-suspended development season.
Deal was hammered out late Friday, making it the last major pilot pact before pencils went down early Monday and a writers strike began.
“I’ve been a huge Bernie Mac fan forever and felt we needed to bring that star back to TV,” said Fox Entertainment prexy Kevin Reilly.
Multicamera sitcom will star Mac as a large, opinionated guy (not unlike himself in that respect) who winds up divorced and living with his introverted twentysomething son. What’s more, he also winds up working for his son.
Helford will exec produce, along with his Mohawk shingle prexy Deb Oppenheimer. Andy Ackerman is also set as a director-exec producer on the pilot; Mac will serve as a producer.
“Bruce constructed a really clean construction, a solid vehicle for Bernie,” Reilly said. “And he doesn’t have it all riding on Bernie’s shoulder. There’s a great twist of a father-son relationship there, too. I have to hand it to Bruce — he nailed it.”
Reilly said he’d been chasing Mac for some time and even tried to get into business with the former “Bernie Mac Show” star earlier this season.
Mac’s recent credits include the features “Ocean’s Thirteen,” “Transformers” and “Pride.” He spent five seasons as the star of “Bernie Mac” and is also well known for his standup career as one of the Original Kings of Comedy.
As for Helford, the scribe is walking the picket line but released a statement: “I can’t wait for the strike to be over so I can start working with Bernie Mac.”
Reup with Helford was a no-brainer for Warner Bros. TV, where Helford has exec produced skeins such as “George Lopez,” “Nikki” and “Freddie” in addition to “Drew Carey.”