Damon Wayans has inked a big-bucks deal with ABC to develop and star in a sitcom about a blue-collar family.
The project, targeted for the 2000-01 season, will be produced through Disney’s ABC Entertainment Television Group.
The specifics of Wayans’ deal with the Mouse House were hazy over the weekend (ABC declined to comment Friday on the pact), but it’s understood that the roughly $3.5-million agreement includes a commitment for 13 segs and a significant penalty fee for ABC if the project doesn’t get off the ground.
Wayans also was courted this month by NBC and Fox, but ABC was said to be bullish on his vision for the show and added a $1 million signing bonus to sweeten its offer.
In the wake of the turmoil last week at the Alphabet web, culminating in the resignation of entertainment prexy Jamie Tarses, it’s telling that ABC Entertainment co-chairman Stu Bloomberg was said to be the driving force in bringing Wayans to ABC.
Wayans began fielding offers about a month ago when his reps let it be known the hyphenate was in the market for TV again after a disappointing experience last year with the Carsey-Werner-produced Fox sitcom “Damon.” Wayans’ standup show at the Wiltern Theatre earlier this month was heavily attended by web and studio execs, and it amounted to a presentation reel of material for the sitcom.
Wayans’ timing is perfect, given that the Big Four webs are all in the hunt for the next hit family sitcom and they’re under pressure to increase the number of minority leads in primetime shows. Damon’s older brother, Keenen Ivory Wayans, is developing a comedy for NBC dubbed “Not the Brady Bunch,” but he is not set to star.
The Damon Wayans project is envisioned as akin in spirit and tone to ABC’s 1988-97 hit “Roseanne.” Wayans will play the hard-working head of a family of four (Wayans himself is the father of four children, ages 8-16), but like “Roseanne,” the show aims to offer a realistic, warts-and-all view of parenting and contemporary family life for blue-collar folks.
Wayans will exec produce the show, along with his manager, Eric L. Gold of Gold/Miller Co. Wayans was repped in the deal by Gold and attorney Stephen Barnes of Bloom, Hergott, Cook, Diemer & Klein.