Sony makes big comedy push

Development season leaps to full speed

Sony Pictures Television is moving early and aggressively into comedy territory with an eye on the 2012-13 TV season, selling more than a dozen scripts in recent weeks across the Big Four.

Script commitments include a pair of untitled multicamera projects at CBS: one from Pam Brady (“South Park”) about parents who move to the college town where their daughter is starting her freshman year, and one from Donick Cary (“The Simpsons”) via Adam Sandler shingle Happy Madison about a family that buys a house which comes with a guest house the mother and brother soon move into.

Fox has two Sony script commitments: a single-camera comedy about a charming hustler who moves in with his best friend and live-in girlfriend, from Tommy Dewey and Greg Bratman (“Sons of Tucson”) who are also with Happy Madison and a single-camera comedy from another “Death” alum, DJ Nash, with Peter Tolan (“Rescue Me”), who has an overall at Sony with partner Michael Wimer. Ensemble project concerns a married couple, his best friend and her sister as they navigate, negotiate and manipulate society’s unspoken rules.

Sony is also doing business at NBC with a multicamera laffer following the lives of adult siblings who work in their father’s law firm, from Alex Barnow and Marc Firek (“Til Death”).

Three of those projects — Brady, Barnow/Firek and Nash — have penalties attached to their script orders.

Not to be left out, ABC has “The Buffalos,” a multigenerational workplace comedy set inside an old-school private club, from Dan Martin (“Emily’s Reasons Why Not”). In addition, ABC has already ordered a comedy script set in a police station from Jay Scherick and David Ronn (“The Smurfs”).

Sony’s comedy push is a reflection of its interest in building on the momentum it achieved last year with “Community,” “Happy Endings” and “Rules of Engagement.” With an even stronger hand on the drama side, the studio is said to be looking to launch a whole new generation of laffers coming off a season where no broadcaster managed to launch a fresh rookie in the genre.

The projects are among a number of script orders that came to light as the development season starts heating up at ABC, as well as Fox and CBS.

In addition, the Alphabet is considering trying its hand at a Western, confirming the order of a script for “Gunslinger” from ABC Studios and executive producer David Zabel, who last delivered “Detroit 1-8-7” for the network. Zabel was also an exec producer on NBC’s “ER” from 2005-09.

Westerns are a rare sight in broadcast development, though NBC considered one last year from writer Josh Brand and helmer Peter Horton but ultimately passed. The genre has gotten some heat on cable going back to HBO’s critically acclaimed “Deadwood” and an upcoming AMC effort, “Hell on Wheels.”

Period dramas in general are getting a test run this fall with the launch next month of ABC’s “Pan Am” and NBC’s “The Playboy Club,” which are both set in the 1960s.

CBS made a script order via CBS TV Studios for an untitled drama from Leonard Goldberg, executive producer of the Eye’s “Blue Bloods,” with writer Ron Bass, screenwriter for “Rain Man.” Project revolves around a private investigator who left the police force after losing his female partner with whom he was in love, only to find out later that she may be back in his life. CBS and CBS TV Studios declined comment.

Fox has ordered an untitled drama script from Warner Bros. Television and McG shingle Wonderland Sound and Vision, the network confirmed. Jeff Wadlow (“Never Back Down”) is executive producer and writer of the “Spy vs. Spy”-style thriller that pits a CIA agent against an operative from a private security firm a la Blackwater, who happen to be best friends.

In addition to feature “Cry Wolf,” Wadlow has seen previous script efforts under the auspices of WBTV reach pilot stage, including CBS’ “Hail Mary” and CW’s “Rush” last year and CBS’ “The Odds” in 2009.

WBTV declined comment.

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