One of television’s most legendary icons is closer than ever to returning to the small screen, as Bill Cosby's NBC family comedy pilot is now officially in the cards. NBC and Sony TV have signed the hundreds of dotted lines to bring into reality this multi-generational family concept with TV veteran Mike O’Malley, whose involvement was announced at the recent TCA press event. One has to wonder how big the sweater budget for this pilot will be.
It was first revealed back in January that Cosby and The Cosby Show’s executive producer Tom Werner were teaming up to try and conquer network TV in the new millennium with a still-untitled project, but all they had at the time was a vague concept of “a family sitcom geared towards Bill Cosby’s thoughts on families and sitcoms.” Several writers pitched their ideas, but top honors went to O’Malley, who is best known for his acting work on series such as Yes Dear and Glee.
As Deadline reports, the pilot’s central focus is mostly the same. Cosby will star as Jonathan Franklin, the wise and wizened top living branch of a large family tree. He “shares his many years of wit, wisdom and experience to help his daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren navigate their complicated lives.” I bet there’s a lot of tough love going on inside that house, or retirement community, or wherever the show will be set.
The project will be overseen by showrunner extraordinaire Mike Sikowitz (Rules of Engagement), who will executive produce the pilot with O’Malley. Both men are busy developing other series – O’Malley with Starz’s basketball comedy Survivor’s Remorse and Sikowitz with CBS’ new sitcom The McCarthys – so it’s not clear how involved each would be should the series get past the pilot stage. If scheduling allows it, O’Malley is also set to star as one of Jonathan’s sons-in-law.
Bill Cosby hasn’t been the center of primetime comedy since Cosby went off the air in 2000, but he’s been making a resurgence in the past few years, capping it all off with the 2013 Comedy Central stand-up special Bill Cosby: Far from Finished. His delivery these days is sometimes stilted, but the guy still has a knack for storytelling that many other comedians have often mimicked but never perfected. Here’s a particularly windy tale from his appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show back in May.
The sitcom has a script commitment at this point, and Bill Cosby is set to make a big payday if the pilot doesn’t go into production for some reason. But who’s gonna drop out of a new Cosby series? Should everything follow through, NBC is planning on bringing the series to audiences in the summer or fall of 2015.