Fox TV Studios is blurring the line between reality and comedy, setting up hybrid laffer “Life of Leisure” at ABC.
Also, alternative unit topper Holly Jacobs has quietly rounded out her talent roster, inking overall deals in recent months with seasoned reality showrunners Laurie Girion (“Last Comic Standing 2”) and Julie Laughlin (“Extreme Makeover”). FTVS also has signed helmer-producer Guy Shalem to a first -look deal.
Shalem is the brains behind “Life of Leisure,” an unscripted half-hour about a depressed twentysomething man who decides to move back in with his parents — and discovers they’ve settled into a retirement community for active seniors.
Like Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and ABC’s upcoming “Sons and Daughters,” there won’t be a script for “Life of Leisure.” Instead, Shalem is working on what the Alphabet is calling a “scriptment” — a very detailed outline explaining the characters and what happens in the first episode.
Should the project go to pilot or series, improv thesps — coached by Shalem — will work off the outline to act out the scenes.
“I love this form because it has a much more authentic feel to it,” said Jacobs, who plans to develop more hybrid projects in the months ahead.
“It’s a world we’re very interested in,” she said. “Our deal with Guy is for him to develop more of these. It’s part of that next generation of reality shows that everybody’s looking to develop.”
“Life of Leisure” went into development after Jacobs started reading media accounts of the so-called “quarter-life crisis,” in which young adults in their mid-20s suddenly find themselves rethinking their lives and even moving back home.
Jacobs tapped Shalem to develop the idea. To help sell the project, FTVS — in what’s becoming an increasingly common strategy — opted to shoot a roughly 12-minute pilot presentation tape, using a number of veteran character actors and shooting on location at an actual retirement community in California.
Shalem is working on another unscripted laffer with Brad Issacs for Lifetime. That project is being produced by NBC U-based Big Cattle Prods. (Daily Variety, Sept. 28).
Separately, the FTVS deal with Girion is already yielding results. MTV has greenlit production on a pilot for “Cheerleader,” a sort of real-life “Bring It On” that follows a year in the life of an ultracompetitive cheerleading squad in Kentucky. Cabler likely will make a decision on a series order in the next few weeks.
Girion is a former MTV news and doc staffer who produced several segs of the net’s “True Life” series. More recently, she’s been a producer or showrunner on skeins such as the FTVS/Jay & Tony Show-produced “R U the Girl?”; “Wickedly Perfect”; and “The Last Resort.”
Laughlin spent two years as co-exec producer on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover,” having previously worked on “Big Brother” and “The Family.” She also worked on several syndie talkers, including “Leeza” and “Jerry Springer.”
Jacobs said signing Girion and Laughlin to multiyear deals is part of her strategy to put FTVS in business “with the showrunners who are really the hands-on producing types who’ve done successful alternative television. People like Laurie and Julie have been on the front lines.”