The networks need more comedy power — and they’re certain Tim Allen has the tools.
Twenty years after the debut of “Home Improvement,” Allen is poised for a TV comeback, and the derby to land the comedian has begun.
Allen could be the most coveted star of TV’s upcoming pilot season. The frenzy for his services has grown so intense that several projects were pitched to the nets this season with Allen specifically in mind but not actually attached.
At least four sitcoms are under consideration by the actor, but Allen hasn’t yet signed on to any particular show.
“He’s not even 100% committed to coming back to TV,” warned Allen’s manager, Richard Baker, who added that the thesp is nonetheless “flattered that there’s so much interest all over town for him to return to TV.”
Baker noted that Allen has several movies in development, as well as two regular commercial voiceover campaigns and an extensive personal appearance schedule.
Yet the fact that Allen is pondering a return to TV is enough to get network and studio execs excited.
“He’s a rare talent who has succeeded in both television and film with appeal that cuts across all demographics,” said one TV exec. “His star wattage with the right material has the potential to generate a big, broad audience and to make an immediate impact on a given night.”
Allen’s done it once before, after all. The standup comedian helped turn “Home Improvement” into a TV powerhouse, pushing ABC into the No. 1 position in the early 1990s.
Back then, ABC had already started to reinvent the family sitcom with “Roseanne.” The addition of “Home Improvement” helped solidify the position. Now, as ABC once again redefines the family laffer with “Modern Family,” the timing could be right for the Alphabet to entice its former star back home.
But CBS, among other nets, is also anxious to land the star. Allen has already met with several nets, writers and producers.
According to Baker, Allen is particularly interested in themes about the need to reimagine masculinity. Allen’s company pitched a reality show to CMT earlier this year — titled “Man Up” — based on masculinity issues. The subject was more recently a cover story in Newsweek coincidentally headlined “Man Up.”
Those themes — of what it means to be a man in today’s society — pop up in the Jack Burditt script “Man Up” (there’s that title again), to which ABC gave a put pilot order with an eye toward Allen.
Allen hasn’t yet met with Burditt, however, nor has he read a “Man Up” script. Thesp is also looking at a similar project from scribe Les Firestein (“The Drew Carey Show”), who sold a pitch to CBS.
Allen has met with Firestein, as well as scribe Kevin Hench (“The Man Show”), who has a man-centric project set up at ABC Studios (through Brillstein Entertainment). Another project is also under consideration.
“We want to maximize his chance for success,” Baker said. “He’ll wait until he reads a script he loves, which is better than committing to a blind deal.”
In the case of “Man Up,” the producers couldn’t resist jumping the gun and mentioning Allen as the ideal star of their show. It’s accurate to say the show is being developed with the thesp in mind, even if no deal is done.
That multicam sitcom, from 20th Century Fox TV, centers on a guy “fighting for his manhood” while surrounded by women at home. Marty Adelstein, Shawn Levy and Becky Clements also exec produce.
As for how and when he returns to TV, Allen — who made “more power” a popular ’90s catchphrase — holds all the might.