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‘Black-ish’ Showrunner Shakeup: Courtney Lilly to Run Season 6

Longtime “Black-ish” writer Courtney Lilly has been upped to the role of showrunner for the ABC comedy’s upcoming sixth season.

The move marks the second leadership change at the series since original creator-showrunner Kenya Barris stepped away from ABC for a highly lucrative Netflix deal in 2018.

Lilly replaces Kenny Smith who was brought in to co-showrun season 5 alongside Jonathan Groff. Sources tell Variety that Smith and Groff are stepping aside to focus on development, and will stay on the show as consulting producers. Smith signed a three-year overall deal with ABC soon after being named showrunner in 2018 and will continue to develop projects with ABC Studios. 

Lilly, who has been a writer on the hit comedy series since season one, had previously served as a co-executive producer on NBC’s multi-camera comedy “Undateable” and as a co-producer on on Fox animated comedy  “The Cleveland Show.” He also was a writer on the CW’s “Everybody Hates Chris” and Fox’s “Arrested Development.” He is represented by UTA and The Shuman Company.

In November 2018, Variety reported exclusively that Lilly was teaming up with Kevin Hart to develop another single-cam comedy at ABC in the form of “Don’t Call It a Comeback.” That prospective series is described as family comedy about a 40-year old divorced dad who had one hit with a PM Dawn-type hip-hop group back in the ’90s and uses his attempt at a comeback to get his swagger back in parenting, relationships and life.

News of Lilly’s appointment comes at a time of expansion for the “Black-ish” universe. Spinoff series “Grown-ish” is entering its third season on Freeform, and a prequel series “Mixed-ish,” narrated by Tracee Ellis Ross, is set to premiere on the Disney-owned network in the fall.

“Black-ish” was recently nominated for two Emmy Awards, one for lead actor in a comedy series for Anthony Anderson, and another for outstanding contemporary costumes for costume designer Michelle R. Cole.

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