Fox has picked up 13 episodes of the talkshow-meets-family sitcom “The Ortegas,” which had been in the works at NBC.
Producers Pariah TV and Hat Trick Prods. were able to shop the laffer elsewhere over the weekend after Peacock execs indicated “The Ortegas” wasn’t likely to make the network’s fall schedule. NBC initially beat out Fox in July to get the rights for a U.S. remake of the show, which is based on BBC sitcom “The Kumars at No. 42” (Daily Variety, Aug. 1, 2002).
NBC had agreed to a slew of demands, such as covering the full cost of production on the show (about $750,000 a seg), in order to secure “The Ortegas” (which has also been known as “The Ortegas of Van Nuys”). According to Pariah prexy Gavin Polone, Fox agreed to all of the same provisions as the Peacock.
“It’s all the same deal,” Polone said. “We weren’t looking for a better deal. But we weren’t willing to accept a lesser deal.”
According to Polone, one change involved production supervision; with NBC out, “The Ortegas'” production will be supervised by Pariah itself.
In the original deal, brokered by Endeavor and attorney Sam Fischer, NBC had promised producers that “The Ortegas” would initially air on one of its two comedy nights (Tuesday or Thursday). Similarly, even though producers and Fox execs wouldn’t reveal details of their deal, it’s likely “The Ortegas” will land behind one of the net’s comedy tentpoles, such as “The Simpsons.”
Also, NBC got just a 10% stake in the show and a distribution fee for NBC Enterprises in the event of syndication; Pariah and Hat Trick retained the rest.
The Peacock also agreed to shell out $1.25 million in penalty fees if it opted not to take “Ortegas” to series. It’s unclear if NBC will still have to pay that fee, given the show’s move to Fox.
On the flip side, NBC was able to snag a perpetual license fee for the show, a key point should “The Ortegas” become a mega-hit.
Polone said “The Ortegas” felt like a better fit for Fox, given the show’s quirky premise. The show stars Al Madrigal as a talkshow host whose studio happens to be attached to his family’s house. Guests have to interact with his parents (including star Cheech Marin) and grandmother before they even get to the show’s hot seat.
“You look at distinctive, original shows like ‘The Simpsons’ and ’24,’ and Fox tries to do really different stuff,” Polone said. “Ultimately when we produced it, it seemed like a Fox show.”
As for Fox, entertainment prexy Gail Berman — who was disappointed when the show initially went elsewhere — said “The Ortegas” was something “we’ve had our eye on for a long time.”
“It’s a wonderful format that combines the sitcom with a talkshow, and it felt really fresh and unique,” Berman said. “And at its center, it’s a family show, which we like very much at Fox.”
Berman said Fox planned to air the pilot pretty much as is, although the net will do “some nipping and tucking.”
“The Ortegas” also lends itself to numerous product-placement opportunities, something Fox has taken advantage of in its unscripted skeins such as “American Idol.”
Besides Polone, “The Ortegas” is exec produced by Wally Wolodarsky, Jimmy Mulville and Denise O’Donoghue.