Well, that was fast. AMC has formally greenlit the dramedy series “Straight Man” starring Bob Odenkirk a little over two weeks after announcing the show as in development.
The show is based on the novel of the same name by Richard Russo. It is described as a mid-life crisis tale set at Railton College in the Pennsylvania Rust Belt. It is told in the first person by William Henry Devereaux, Jr. (Odenkirk), the unlikely chairman of the English department.
“The saying goes ‘the third times a charm,’ but when it comes to Bob Odenkirk on AMC, the first and second times were about as charming, captivating and viscerally entertaining as it gets,” said Dan McDermott, president of entertainment and AMC Studios for AMC Networks. “As ‘Better Call Saul’ begins its epic sixth and final season, we could not be more excited by the prospect of keeping Bob at home on AMC and watching him breathe life into another nuanced, complicated and unforgettable character. The chance to collaborate once again with our partners at Sony Pictures Television and Mark Johnson’s Gran Via is even more icing on a very satisfying cake.”
Aaron Zelman and Paul Lieberstein are adapting the novel for the screen and will serve as co-showrunners and executive producers on the series. Odenkirk will executive produce in addition to starring. Peter Farrelly is onboard to direct and executive produce. Russo, Naomi Odenkirk, Mark Johnson, and Marc Provissiero will also executive produce. TriStar TV and Gran Via produce. The show is slated for a 2023 debut. The first season will be eight one-hour episodes.
“I am thrilled that AMC is embracing the unique scenario and characters in Paul and Aaron’s adaptation of ‘Straight Man,’” Odenkirk said. “I have loved the mix of comedy and drama in ‘Better Call Saul,’ and this is another story with a unique dynamic, and the kind of closely observed character writing and exploration that AMC has become the touchstone for. It’s going to be fun to play and watch!”
Odenkirk first entered the AMC fold when he began playing bus bench ad lawyer Saul Goodman on “Breaking Bad” in the show’s second season. He began starring in the prequel series “Better Call Saul” in 2015. The latter show is due to end with its sixth season, the first half of which debuted on AMC on April 18. The second half will then begin on July 11.
“We’re so excited to work with Bob,” Zelman and Lieberstein said. “We don’t know another actor who can give you three different emotions on his face at the same time, in a reaction shot. We’re thrilled to swim in the depth of his range. And it’s a dream to be working with Mark Johnson, who literally has Jedi powers to make everyone think they came up with his idea. Oh, and did we mention the legendary Peter Farrelly? AMC Networks and Sony/Tristar have been uniquely supportive partners in sharing our vision for the show. Ever since Mad Men we’ve wanted a show on this network, where risk taking is par for the course. We’re honored to be bringing Richard Russo’s amazing novel to life here.”
Odenkirk is now officially the second “Better Call Saul” cast member to line up a new series at AMC ahead of the show’s ending. It was previously announced that Giancarlo Esposito, known for playing Gus Fring on both “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” will star in the AMC drama series “The Driver,” based on a U.K. format.
“We are thrilled to be on this next adventure with AMC, Bob Odenkirk and Mark Johnson,” added Jeff Frost and Jason Clodfelter, co-presidents of Sony Pictures Television Studios. “We have had such amazing success and such a remarkable partnership together and truly look forward to working with Aaron and Paul in bringing this captivating series to life.”