CBS has given “Frasier” scribes Christopher Lloyd and Joe Keenan a blind 13-episode comedy series commitment.
Skein will be produced by Paramount Network Television as part of the writing duo’s deal with the studio. It’s being targeted for a fall 2002 debut.
Lloyd and Keenan continue to work on “Seven Roses,” a Par comedy pilot that had been in development for the Eye’s fall 2001 sked (Daily Variety, Feb. 20). While most of the show has been cast, Lloyd and Keenan have been unable to find the right male lead for the project, delaying production.
While pilot commitments — let alone 13-episode guarantees — have become less common in the current economic climate, CBS topper Leslie Moonves said Lloyd and Keenan are worth the risk.
“We think they’re among the best showrunners in television,” Moonves said. “A lot of the success of ‘Frasier’ was because of them, and we’re happy to have their next show.”
While the CBS commitment is blind, Keenan and Lloyd said they’ve made some progress on a concept for the new show.
“We’ve started knocking things around, honing in on some ideas,” Lloyd said.
While pundits have taken to declaring the sitcom dead, Keenan and Lloyd said they don’t feel any particular performance pressure connected with the new deal.
“I don’t think we’re trying to reinvent the sitcom,” Keenan said. “We just want to come up with characters who are interesting and real and multidimensional, and follow them for many years.”
Lloyd said he was happy to be working with CBS on the new skein.
“We’re very flattered by the vote of confidence,” he said. “We’ve had a great working relationship with CBS (on ‘Seven Roses’).”
Lloyd, who’s repped by Broder Kurland Webb Uffner, worked on “Frasier” from its first season in 1993 until May 2000, serving as exec producer of the series for all but one of those years and winning six Emmys.
Keenan joined “Frasier” in 1994 as exec story editor. He quickly worked his way up to co-producer and by 1997 was co-exec producer of the series.
In 1999, the ICM-repped Keenan was named exec producer of “Frasier.” He’s been nominated for several writing Emmys, winning twice. Keenan also won four comedy series Emmys as a producer on the sitcom.