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Kathreen Khavari Tapped by Refinery29 for ‘Embrace’ Comedy Pilot

Refinery29 will begin production in 2019 on “Embrace,” a pilot from writing duo Kathreen Khavari (“Big Little Lies”) and Chuck Neal.

“Embrace” will star Khavari as she comes up with an unconventional solution to prevent her Iranian immigrant parents from having to move back to Iran. Refinery29 bills the show, set in Khavari’s hometown of Oakland, Calif., as a “culturally diverse, quasi-surrealist comedy that captures the ever-increasing need for human connection and the subsequent commodification of it.”

Refinery29, a digital-centric media company catering to millennial female audiences, is producing “Embrace” on spec and is looking to sell the show to a streaming platform or TV network, according to a rep.

Khavari appeared in the first season of HBO’s “Big Little Lies” and plays Issa Rae’s bitter coworker Patricia in HBO’s “Insecure.” She voices Ms. Marvel, Marvel’s first Muslim superhero, in the Disney/Marvel animated franchise “Marvel Rising” and in the ongoing animated series “Marvel Avengers Assemble.” Neal wrote and produced comedy “Famous Farrah” (in which Khavari starred); and Khavari and Neal also host the comedic podcast “Strongly Worded.”

“Embrace” is executive produced by Khavari and Neal alongside Marta Cunningham, who also will direct. Cunningham (“Insecure,” “Room 104”) is set to direct upcoming episodes of AMC’s “Fear the Walking Dead” and NBC’s “The Village.” Khaliah Neal (“The Last Black Man In San Francisco,” “3 1/2 Minutes,” “10 Bullets”) will produce alongside Refinery29.

Popular on Variety

The project is the latest move by New York-based Refinery29 to diversify its original video and entertainment strategy. Refinery29 this summer announced a partnership with indie-film distributor Neon, marking its first foray into feature films. In addition, Refinery29 teamed with Beachside to co-produce comedy series “Strangers” for Facebook Watch. The show — about a newly single, bisexual 20-something who rents out her spare room to an array of random tenants to try and keep her home — has 10 million views to date on Facebook Watch.

Khavari is repped by Circle of Confusion, CESD and attorney Duncan Hedges. Cunningham is repped by ICM Partners.

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