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CBS Re-Piloting Comedy ‘Superior Donuts’ with Midseason Plans

CBS is giving another go at “Superior Donuts.”

Variety has learned the network is officially re-piloting the comedy, which is based on the play of the same name. “Superior Donuts” is expected to shoot again this summer, eyeing a potential midseason debut.

Rising star Jermaine Fowler leads the multi-camera sitcom and also serves as an exec producer. He was attached to the project from the beginning, but his original co-star Brian d’Arcy (“Spotlight”) will be re-cast. “Superior Donuts,” based on the play by Tracy Letts, follows the relationship between the owner of a donut shop (to be re-cast), his new young employee (Fowler) and their patrons in a gentrifying neighborhood of Chicago.

Aside from “Superior Donuts,” insiders tell Variety that “Furst Born” is also still in contention, perhaps for a midseason pickup, though CBS declined to comment. The comedy pilot that stars Poppy Montgomery was not ordered to series during the typical cycle, but still remains on CBS’ radar.

An early favorite among CBS execs during pilot season, “Superior Donuts” fell off once cuts rolled in and cooled down considerably nearing upfronts. Fowler received rave reviews from execs who screened the pilot. CBS has been hot on the comedian for quite some time now — he previously sold a comedy project that he wrote and was set to star in, and also headlined his own comedy special on the CBS-owned Showtime.

It’s not surprising that CBS is considering additional comedies for its new season. The network is airing three new half-hours this fall — “Kevin Can Wait,” “Man With a Plan” and “The Great Indoors” — but has no new or returning comedy currently available to come off the bench.

Should “Superior Donuts” go all the way, it would add a splash of diversity to CBS’ comedy schedule, which currently is home to new shows starring Kevin James, Matt LeBlanc and Joel McHale.

Last week during upfronts, the network was criticized for the lack of diversity on the fall schedule to which CBS president Glenn Geller said, “Our new series are more diverse this year than last year.” Geller also noted also the new legal drama “Doubt,” which stars Katherine Heigl and transgender actress Laverne Cox. He said, “‘Doubt,’ I’m happy to say, is the first broadcast series to feature a transgender series regular. I think that’s phenomenal.”

Similarly, last year “Doubt” also re-shot after not being picked up during the 2015-2016 pilot season. After much re-casting, the series was picked up and will debut midseason during the 2016-2017 season.

Neil Goldman, Garrett Donovan and Bob Daily penned the pilot. Along with Fowler, Mark Teitelbaum, John Montgomery, Michael Rotenberg and Josh Lieberman are exec producers. CBS Television Studios is producing.

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