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FX Buys Kelsey Grammer, Martin Lawrence Oddball Comedy

Like "Anger Management," the Lionsgate and Debmar-Mercury series will get a 10-episode test run, which could trigger 90 more episodes.

FX has scooped up another 10/90 comedy.

The network has acquired 10 episodes of the odd couple effort, starring Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. If it hits a certain ratings thresholds with that first batch of episodes, 90 more automatically will be ordered.

The untitled comedy, from Lionsgate Television and Debmar-Mercury, sees Grammer and Lawrence playing Chicago lawyers from vastly different backgrounds who unexpectedly meet in court on the worst day of their lives. Brought together by fate and greed, they develop a partnership and friendship, forcing one another to find the balance between the ethical and unscrupulous in their professional and persona lives.

The comedy's pedigreed group, which includes executive producer Bob Boyett and Robert Horn (Family Matters, Perfect Strangers, Full House), began taking the pitch around to a series of cable and broadcast networks shortly after upfront week wrapped in mid-May. Though there was said to be interest from multiple nets, Lionsgate and its distributor Debmar-Mercury ultimately struck a deal with the network with which it has the most history. Grammer, Lawrence, Brian Sher, Stella Bulochnikov, Michael Green and Sam Maydew will also exec produce.

“With the merging of two comedic geniuses, as well as two legendary showrunners, we couldn’t have a stronger team on board for this show and can’t wait to get to work,” FX COO and president of program strategy Chuck Saftler. “We’re also thrilled to be continuing our relationship with the pros at Lionsgate and Debmar-Mercury.”

The sale marks the third 10/90 acquisition by the News Corp.-owned cable network. FX began airing Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management in June 2012, and ordered a forthcoming George Lopez comedy, Saint George, less than a year later. Such programs are treated internally as acquisitions, a la Two and a Half Men reruns, rather than FX original series, and are scheduled accordingly.

“I am excited to be returning to TV and to be working with Kelsey,” Lawrence said. “We have a great time together so I am looking forward to making a good show with a lot of laughs.”

Added Grammer: "Martin is arguably one of the funniest men alive and after some success in drama I thought it might be time to try my hand at comedy. I am thrilled to have this extraordinary team show me the ropes. All kidding aside, I don't think a better bunch of talent exists; I am honored and blessed."

The series will be produced by Lionsgate Television in association with Grammnet NH Productions and You Go Boy Productions.

According to Anger Management showrunner Bruce Helford, the alternative programming model is poised to have a dramatic impact on the industry, if it hasn't already. “It's simple economics: if you lay it out properly, you're strong in your organizational skills and you have a good writing staff, you can do the same quality of show for half the money and in half the time,” Helford said in a recent interview with THR. “It took me five years to get to 100 Drew Careys; it will take me two years to get to 100 Anger Managements.”

With this, Debmar-Mercury has successfully sold all eight 10/90 comedy projects that it has taken to market. More impressive: only one, Comedy Central’s Big Lake, did not move beyond its initial 10 episode run.

“Pair two great actors and comedy legends with the executive producing team behind some of the most memorable sitcoms ever, mix in the outstanding team at FX and you have all of the ingredients for another TV classic,” said Debmar-Mercury co-presidents Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein in a statement. "Our 10/90 model is all about delivering brand names and concepts that will grab viewers instantly, having incredible creative auspices and a very supportive network. This sitcom surpasses our criteria on virtually every level.”

Added Lionsgate Television Group president Kevin Beggs: “There was an immediate rapport between Kelsey and Martin from their very first meeting, and when Bob and Robert joined as showrunners, all the stars aligned in a very exciting way. We’re delighted that FX recognized the tremendous potential for this series and look forward to another great collaboration.”

Grammer is a five-time Emmy winner for his work on comedies including Cheers and Frasier. Most recently, he starred for two seasons on the Starz drama Boss. Lawrence, meanwhile, stars in the Bad Boys and Big Momma's House trilogy in addition to his sitcom, Martin, which ran from 1992-97 on Fox.

The Hollywood Reporter

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