CBS on twin track to Lawrence laffer

Tom Hertz, Larry Wilmore penning separate scripts for comic

CBS is doubling down in its effort to develop a sitcom vehicle for Martin Lawrence, setting scribes Tom Hertz and Larry Wilmore on separate paths to create a property for the comedian.

The decision to engage two high-level comedy scribes is a sign of CBS’ interest in having a Lawrence-fronted laffer on its air next season. The comic signed a development pact with the Eye last fall (Daily Variety, Sept. 15).

“Rules of Engagement” creator-exec producer Hertz is penning a Sony Pictures TV/CBS TV Studios project revolving around a family man who tries to raise down-to-earth kids despite the influence of his wealthy in-laws. Project is set up through Adam Sandler’s Sony-based Happy Madison banner, which is also home to “Rules.” Happy Madison’s Doug Robinson will exec produce with Hertz.

Wilmore is working on a script for CBS TV Studios that centers on a single man who becomes a foster parent to several children along with his sister. He’s exec producing with Michael Green and David Miner.

Wilmore, creator and exec producer of Fox’s “The Bernie Mac Show,” has worked on both sides of the camera in recent years, logging numerous TV guest shots and a semi-regular gig contributor to “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.”

Insiders downplayed the notion that the two scribes are in a bakeoff situation. Rather, the focus is on improving the odds of generating material that will be the right fit for Lawrence, who toplined the Fox laffer “Martin” from 1992-97 but has focused on feature films in recent years.

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