Playwright David Talbert and thesp-turned-producer Morris Chestnut have partnered to develop a comedy for Fox.
“It Takes a Village,” which is being developed through 20th Century Fox TV, centers on a young R&B singer who loses his money thanks to the ill-advised dealings of his best friend and business manager.
Forced to move back to his old home in the inner city, the man winds up working in an at-risk youth community center — where he becomes a mentor of sorts to the “Bad News Bears”-esque kids.
Talbert said the idea came out of a brainstorm session he and Chestnut had at a Corner Bakery eatery.
“I grew up a fan of ‘Busted Loose’ and the whole Richard Pryor thing,” Talbert said. “I always wanted to do a show where I’d have a fish-out-of-water character dealing with kids.”
Talbert sees the main character in the vein of young pop/R&B stars like Trey Songz or Drake — with a dash of rags-to-riches like “The Fresh Prince,” Will Smith.
Chestnut previously made his stage debut in Talbert’s play “Love in the Nick of Tyme.” The duo has been looking to work together on other projects since then — and Chestnut pushed the idea of TV.
“(Chestnut) has been pushing me to get this set up at a network,” Talbert said. “For 20 years I’ve been doing plays across the country, which are basically like sitcoms. They’ve got the live audience and one or two settings — for me this was a natural progression. “My formula for comedy is big laughs and big heart, and that’s something that’s been missing from TV a lot.”
Talbert draws a loyal following to his plays, and is considered the second top draw in that space among African-American auds — behind only Tyler Perry.
As for Chestnut, the “V” thesp has been looking to move further into producing, having previously produced the features “Takers” (which opened No. 1 at the box office in August) and 2009’s “Not Easily Broken.” Chestnut’s other acting credits include “The Game Plan” and “The Cave.”
Besides Talbert and Chestnut, exec producers include 5 Boroughs Entertainment’s Steven Greener, who was previously an exec producer on Fox’s “The Bernie Mac Show” (and handled production on “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” for Medina/Pollack Entertainment). Brian Wilkins will serve as an exec producer as well.