Feature producer Mark Gordon’s move into TV has already paid dividends with drama hits like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Criminal Minds.”
Now he’s looking for a few good laughs.
The Mark Gordon Co. dipped its toes in the sitcom waters last year with the ABC pilot “It Takes a Village.” This year, the shingle has already set up six comedies — including four at the Alphabet net and one apiece at NBC and Fox.
Gordon and his TV topper, Deb Spera, got serious about the half-hour format after hiring former Fox and Regency TV exec Andrea Shay to oversee comedy development at the ABC Studios-based shingle.
Gordon said he and Spera first met Shay when she was seven months pregnant, and were so sold on bringing her on board that they waited another six months to fill the comedy job.
“Andrea is very funny and has enormous heart, and that’s a consistent part of what we have in our work, shows that are heartfelt and emotional,” Gordon said.
Projects at ABC include “Home Invasion,” a family comedy from Steve Bladikoski and Bryan Behar (“Glenn Martin, DDS”) about a man whose perfect family life is interrupted by the arrival of his mother and slacker brother.
Also at the Alphabet, the shingle is developing “The Cube,” from Rocky Russo and Jeremy Sosenko, an office comedy about two mismatched cubicle mates.
Marielle Heller and Cailin Goldberg-Meehan are penning an untitled comedy for ABC about twenty-something foodies in New York. And “Cougar Town” scribes Chrissy Pietrosh and Jessica Goldstein are working on a comedy based on their lives, as two best friends who also work together.
At Fox, Sara Endsley is writing a family comedy about a woman who manages her divorced parents’ restaurants — while also managing her mother and father’s contentious relationship. And the NBC comedy, “The New Deal” (formerly titled “Man of the House”) centers on a couple whose roles reverse when the wife becomes their family’s chief breadwinner. Feature writer Adam Sztykiel (“Made of Honor”) and Rob Cohen are behind the show.
In addition to the scribes, Gordon and Shay are exec producers on all of the projects. Shay said the family nature of many of the shows is in keeping with ABC’s emphasis on domestic vehicles to build on its success with “Modern Family.”
“They’re looking for more family shows and more female-driven comedies,” she said. “We also wanted to pursue writers who have funny, original ideas. I like working with writers who can tell me a great story from their lives.”
Gordon admitted that he’s been typecast as a drama producer, given his success in film (“Saving Private Ryan,” “Speed”) in addition to TV. But he’s got a soft spot for comedy as well, and now relishes the chance to explore that genre.
“You fall into success in one area and it becomes your signature,” he said. “But going back to my youth, the shows that I loved were all half-hour comedy… There are certain things you can do in half hour that you can’t explore in an hour.”