'Friends' actor to star, executive produce pilot

Branching out further from his “Friends” persona, Matthew Perry is headed to Showtime with a project co-written with veteran producer Peter Tolan.

Perry will star and take co-creator/exec producer credit on “The End of Steve.” Sony Pictures TV has secured a pilot order with significant penalty attached.

Perry will play an afternoon talkshow host on local TV who is genial onscreen but embittered when the camera’s off. Series would depict him trying to find professional and personal happiness (including love with the station’s morning show host, a part yet uncast).

“Matthew had a kernel of an idea that he had been fleshing out, and he got together with Peter,” said Sony TV co-prexy Zack Van Amburg. “Peter worked closely and collaborated with Matthew, and they rounded up a full show.”

Production of the pilot and prospective series would work around the schedule of another Sony project, FX’s “Rescue Me,” where Tolan remains executive producer.

Despite 10 seasons as Chandler Bing on “Friends,” Perry arguably earned more critical notice during the single, fizzled season of the Peacock’s “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” as showrunner-with-integrity Matt Albie. Two guest-actor Emmy noms for his work on “The West Wing” and a lead miniseries/movie nomination for “The Ron Clark Story” have also boosted his cred.

Calling Tolan and Perry “a twisted match made in heaven,” Showtime entertainment prexy Robert Greenblatt said he has been trying to develop a project with Tolan for two decades.

Tolan won an Emmy for the series finale of “Larry Sanders,” and was nominated for writing and directing on “Rescue Me.” He is also an exec producer on “The Unusuals,” a cop dramedy in the works for ABC via Sony. Amber Tamblyn, Adam Goldberg, Terry Kinney and Harold Perrineau Jr. will star.

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