ABC has picked up an additional drama and comedy series for the 2019-2020 season.
Your Complete Guide to Pilots and Straight-to-Series orders
The network has ordered hourlong legal drama For Life (fka Hank Steinberg/Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson Project) and multi-camera family comedy United We Fall. Both hail from Sony Pictures TV, which will co-produce with ABC Studios.
United We Fall and For Life join comedy mixed-ish and drama Untitled Cobie Smulders (aka Stumptown), both from ABC Studios, to bring ABC’s new series for next season to four so far.
Along with Untitled Cobie Smulders, which was picked up to series on Wednesday, For Life had been a frontrunner among ABC’s drama pilots. It took three extra days for the Hank Steinberg/50 Cent pilot to secure a formal order because of the now almost obligatory pre-pickup push by the broadcast networks to extract better co-production terms from independent studios.
Because of the slew of comedy series ABC renewed for next season, with two more, the Sony TV-produced The Goldbergs and spinoff Schooled, pending, the network is not expected to pick up additional new comedy series. The multi-camera family comedy United We Fall, which was an early standout, is eyed as a companion for ABC’s hit multi-camera family sitcom The Conners.
On the drama side, there has been chatter that ABC is looking to pick up the ABC Studios-produced Emergence, which is a pilot at NBC, and romantic tale The Baker and the Beauty, from Universal TV. (Of the rest, NYPD Blue will be reworked for midseason consideration while Heart of Life will be redeveloped. New York Undercover is not going forward at ABC, it is being shopped).
For Life comes from Hank Steinberg, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Doug Robinson and Alison Greenspan.
Written by Steinberg and directed by George Tillman Jr., For Life is a fictional serialized legal and family drama inspired by the life of Isaac Wright, Jr. about a prisoner who becomes a lawyer, litigating cases for other inmates while fighting to overturn his own life sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. His quest for freedom is driven by his desperate desire to get back to the family he loves and reclaim the life that was stolen from him. The show will also, through the window of his ferocious struggle and his complicated relationship with a progressive female prison warden, examine the flaws and challenges in our penal and legal systems.
Nicholas Pinnock, Indira Varma, Joy Bryant, Glenn Fleshler, Dorian Missick and Tyla Harris star along with Mary Stuart Masterson and Boris McGiver.
Steinberg, Tillman, Jackson and his G-Unit Film & Television production company and Wright Jr. executive produce the pilot adaptation alongside Robinson and Greenspan via Doug Robinson Productions. Also executive producing is Isaac Wright Jr., who was wrongfully convicted as drug kingpin but got his conviction overturned while in prison and became a licensed attorney.
United We Fall, starring Will Sasso, Christina Vidal and Jane Curtin, comes from Making History creator Julius Sharpe and Seth Gordon.
Written by Sharpe and directed by Mark Cendrowski, it is a profoundly realistic family sitcom that follows the trials and tribulations of Jo (Vidal) and Bill (Sasso), parents of two young kids, as they try to make it day-to-day as a functioning family. Bill’s very judgmental live-in mother (Curtin) and Jo’s large Latinx Catholic family will never hesitate to let our couple know they’re seemingly screwing up, but Bill and Jo will always have each other’s backs, united against everyone – other parents, teachers, doctors, specialists, coaches, co-workers, and especially their kids.
Ella Grace Helton also stars.
Sharpe executive produces with Exhibit A Film’s Gordon and Julia Gunn.