It's pilot pickup time in Hollywood, and Baltimore's Jason Winer got some good news yesterday with an order from NBC for 13 episodes of "1600 Penn," a political comedy that he co-created, directs and executive produces. The series will introduced as a midseason replacement when NBC introduces its new fall lineup Monday in New York on the first day of the upfronts.
The other creators and executive producers are Jon Lovett, a former White House speech writer, and Josh Gad, from "The Book of Mormon, who also co-stars. Other co-stars in the ensemble comedy are Bill Pullman and Jenna Elfman.
Winer, a Baltimore Friends School graduate, won a Directors Guild Award for directing the pilot of "Modern Family." He is also an executive producer on that series for which he directed another six episodes this year.
The Hollywood trade publications have been comparing "1600 Penn," a single-camera sitcom that highlights the not so perfect family part of the First Family, to ABC's hit "Modern Family."
As has been reported and discussed at this blog, political comedy and drama have come to play an increasingly prominent role in popular culture as the politics of Washington seem to be more and more grid-locked and dysfunctional. Witness such Maryland-made productions as HBO's "VEEP and "Game Change," as well as the $100-million Netflix production "House of Cards," with Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright and Kate Mara, which director David Fincher has been filming this week on a soundstage built at the Baltimore Sun.
Winer has been busy under a new deal he signed last year with Twentieth Century Fox, the studio that produces "Modern Family." This season, he directed another pilot for Fox, "Rebounding," that is under consideration for a place on that network's fall schedule.