Variety has learned that the “Better Call Saul” star is attached to lead a new dramedy series that is currently being fast-tracked in development at AMC. The series is called “Straight Man,” based on the Richard Russo novel of the same name. It is described a mid-life crisis tale set at Railton College, told in the first person by William Henry Devereaux, Jr. (Odenkirk), the unlikely chairman of the English department in a badly underfunded college in the Pennsylvania rust belt.
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, and Marc Provissiero will also executive produce. TriStar TV and Gran Via produce. Should the show be greenlit, it would be slated for a 2023 debut.
“Bob Odenkirk is just as good as it gets. We feel so fortunate to be developing a new show that would keep him at AMC after ‘Better Call Saul’ and ‘Breaking Bad,’ two iconic series that have been beloved by millions of fans and helped define AMC and its reputation for unforgettable characters and high-quality storytelling for adults,” said Dan McDermott, president of entertainment and AMC Studios for AMC Networks. “We’re also thrilled to be working again with our partners at Sony Pictures Television and Mark Johnson’s Gran Via to explore this compelling material.”
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 debuts on AMC on April 18. The second half will then begin on July 11.
“I loved Paul and Aaron’s take on Richard’s excellent, entertaining novel,” Odenkirk said. “Once again a project with AMC with a focus on character depth and sensitivity. This milieu (academia) seems very pertinent to the conversations we’re all having. I am drawn to the tone of humanity and humor in the novel and I look forward to playing this role – something lighter than my recent projects but still closely observed and smart.”