The Universal TV project, executive produced by The Good Place creator Mike Schur, originally received a pilot order in late January. The pilot was in the midst of casting and had just secured Smart for the lead when all Hollywood production shut down in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Scripts already were being written and, based on the strength of the scripts and Smart’s casting, HBO Max has decided to give the project a series order. It is a path other networks and platforms are taking too amid the shutdown as they try to get more content in the pipeline for when filming is able to resume.
Written by Downs, Aniello, who also directs, and Statsky, the Untitled Aniello, Downs, Statsky comedy revolves around a dark mentorship that forms between two women from different generations — a Las Vegas diva, played by Smart, and an entitled, outcast 25-year-old. The comedy is from Schur’s Fremulon and Universal TV, where Schur and Statsky are under overall deals.
“When this dream team came to us, we jumped at the chance to develop this project, which features two complex female characters working in comedy and facing the professional and personal challenges that come along with it. When Jean Smart came aboard, we were even more delighted to move forward,” said Sarah Aubrey, Head of Original Content, HBO Max. “We’re excited to be working with this winning combination of talent and confident the show will fit perfectly into our robust slate of HBO Max Originals.”
Downs and Aniello executive produce via their Paulilu banner alongside Statsky as well as Schur via Fremulon, David Miner for 3 Arts Entertainment and Morgan Sackett (The Good Place). Universal TV, a division of NBCUniversal Content Studios, is the studio.
“I am so thrilled to be making this show with our incredible partners at HBO Max and Universal TV, and it is a dream to write for the incomparable Jean Smart,” said Downs. “It is an honor and a privilege to craft and portray complex, female characters. For far too long, male voices dominated the space, both on-and-off screen, and thankfully that has finally changed. I’m sure Lucia and Jen agree, but unfortunately, they only gave us this much room for a quote. Sorry girls!”
Downs was a writer/executive producer and co-star on Broad City, which aired for five seasons on Comedy Central. He is a consulting producer on Comedy Central’s The Other Two. He also co-wrote, produced and starred opposite Scarlett Johanssen in the feature film Rough Night and currently guest stars in Apple’s Little America.
Aniello was a writer/executive producer and director on Broad City. She directs and is an executive producer on the upcoming Babysitters Club on Netflix. She directed the pilot of Comedy Central’s breakout series Awkwafina is Nora From Queens.
Statsky served as a co-executive producer on Broad City. Statsky served as co-executive producer on NBC’s The Good Place, created and exec produced by Schur. Statsky’s writing credits also include NBC’s Parks and Recreation, Netflix’s Lady Dynamite, and Amazon’s Forever.
Three-time Emmy winner Smart also is set to star in another series for HBO Max, Superintelligence with Melissa McCarthy, and also will be seen in Mare of Easttown alongside Kate Winslet for HBO. Her other credits include HBO’s Watchmen, FX’s Fargo and A Simple Favor.
Smart is repped by WME and Untitled Entertainment; Downs and Aniello are repped by UTA and 3 Arts Entertainment; and Statsky is repped by Mosaic.