Pilot season is currently under way, where the networks order pilot episodes of shows that could be next season's breakout hits. Yesterday, Fox issued a pilot order for a new untitled X-Men series that will be set within 20th Century Fox's X-Men movie universe. A high-profile project like this sets the bar rather high for everything that comes after it, but NBC has ordered a high-profile pilot of their own, that may prove to be quite controversial. The network has ordered the pilot What About Barb?, a gender-swapped version of the 1991 comedy movie What About Bob? starring Bill Murray.
Deadline reports that this TV reboot hails from ABC Studios, which will feature female versions of both the Bob Wiley and Dr. Leo Marvin characters played by Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfus in the original movie. The movie followed the psychotherapist Dr. Leo Marvin whose family vacation is upended when his obsessive-compulsive neurotic patient Bob Wiley tracks him down. It seems that the TV series will lose the vacation angle, with the show following a female psychotherapist that tries to cut ties with her most over-bearing patient, but fails, "and gains an annoying family member in the process."
The pilot script will be written by the writing team of Joe Port and Joe Wiseman, who previously worked on New Girl and The Office. This gender-swapped take was actually first developed by ABC Studios during the 2015-2016 pilot season by the studio's comedy development executive Zack Olin, who came up with the idea to turn Bob and Leo's characters into women. The project was turned into an open writing assignment, with the studio hearing pitches for the past two years, before Joe Port and Joe Wiseman's take won the studio over. The project was shopped around to networks before landing at NBC in a competitive bidding situation.
The original movie also starred Julie Hagerty, Charlie Korsmo, Kathryn Erbe, Tom Aldredge and Susan Willis. The film grossed $63 million from a $39 million budget in 1991, which, when adjusted for inflation, equates to a $130.8 million movie today. Frank Oz directed the film from a script by Tom Schulman (Dead Poets Society), based on a story by Alvin Sargent (Ordinary People, Spider-Man 2) and producer Laura Ziskin (Spider-Man). It wasn't revealed if any of the original producers or filmmakers will be involved in the series.
Joe Port and Joe Wiseman were under an overall deal at CBS TV Studios, where they most recently wrote and produced for The Odd Couple and The Crazy Ones. They have also written and produced for 1600 Penn, New Girl, Last Man Standing and Perfect Couples. This project marks their first time back at NBC since they served as producers on The Office back in 2006. Now that the pilot has been ordered, hopefully we'll be hearing about the What About Barb? cast very soon.