After 12 years with 20th Century Fox, working on shows such as Malcolm, Miss Guided and The Larry Sanders Show, director Todd Holland is leaving 20th Century Fox and entering into a new two-year contract to work with Karey Burke at Universal Media Studios.
The pair aim to develop a range of projects through their as-yet-unnamed shingle. Holland has spent the past dozen years under contract to 20th Century Fox TV, which let him out early to pursue the partnership with Burke. Burke was a longtime NBC creative exec who joined Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg’s Katalyst banner as a partner in 2005.
Holland and Burke got to know each other several years ago while working on the ABC sitcom “Miss Guided,” which Katalyst developed with 20th Century Fox TV.
The project took several years to get off the ground, and over the long haul of pushing it up the hill for a short run in 2008, Holland and Burke became close.
“Together we really make one perfect creative person,” Holland told Daily Variety . “She has all the skills I don’t have: all the network experience, the general awareness of the writer community and the memory of so much TV development. I’m always thinking like a director — ‘What are we doing right now?’ ”
Holland noted that his parting from 20th is bittersweet after 12 years and numerous skeins, including “Malcolm in the Middle,” the cult fave “Wonderfalls” and, most recently, laffer “Sons of Tucson.”
“I’m very grateful to the studio,” Holland said. “It’s going to be very strange to work anywhere else, but I’m excited for the strange.”
Holland said he was particularly eager to move back into drama development after focusing on laffers for the past few years.
It is particularly interesting to note that Holland is moving towards drama, having spent a considerable amount of time on comedy shows, with even one of his most recent small projects for Funny or Die, as the name probably suggests, being focused on ‘funny’.
This is big news for him professionally, but his personal and family life is changing too: Todd and his husband Scotch Ellis Loring recently became proud parents to triplets.
Sometimes surrogacy experiences can give parents more children to love than they could ever expect.
“Finally, on our fifth attempt, we got pregnant with triplets,” said television producer Todd Holland, known for his work on Malcolm in the Middle. Holland’s partner, actor Scotch Ellis Loring, was also on the panel.
This looks set to be an interesting time for Todd and we wish him well professionally and personally.
Todd Holland, who of course directed many episodes of Malcolm, recently directed a short mockumentary trailer for Funny or Die. Entitled Wax On, F*** Off and featuring Ralph Macchio of Karate Kid fame, it shows the story of Ralph, who can’t get another job in Hollywood because he is too ‘nice’. So he sets out on a journey to do anything to be involved in scandal and therefore be marketable again. “If he were a degenerate, I could sell him”, his ‘manager’ explains.
As the title might suggest, the video does contain some strong language. That’s — kind of the point.
Don’t feel so bad for Ralph Macchio. Yes, he must be kinda bummed that what little thunder he had left is being stolen by a 12-year-old. Yes, the last good movie he was in was My Cousin Vinny. And yes, he’s only been in one theatrical release since 1993, and it made less than half a million dollars, and it starred Artie Lang. But if the above mockumentary trailer is to believed (it isn’t), Macchio’s not landing the big gigs because he’s just too normal and happy, presumably resting on his laurels Karate Kid residuals. But after an intervention by loved ones, Macchio summons the determination and courage that brought Daniel Larusso glory on the dojo mat, and redirects it to the task of sullying his nice-guy reputation with drugs and hookers in order to stage a Robert Downey Jr.– or Mickey Rourke–style comeback. The Funny or Die exclusive also features cameos by Kevin Connolly, and excellent Michael Lerner (who you’ll remember as the shoe-kissing studio chief in Barton Fink), and Macchio’s female counterpart in the category of where-are-they-now 80’s stars, Molly Ringwald.
Details are rather thin on the ground at the moment, but it seems Todd Holland, director many episodes of Malcolm and responsible for much of the show’s look and feel, is now involved with a new project, post Sons of Tucson.
The new show is called Random Acts and will be on the Epix premium TV network in the US.
Todd Holland (Malcolm in the Middle and The Larry Sanders Show) partners with writer Andrea Abbate and Fox 21 on this half-hour single camera edgy action comedy about two female hit men looking for love in all the wrong places, while working for an eccentric and ruthless crime boss.
The subject matter is obviously quite a departure from Malcolm and Holland’s recent work with Justin Berfield on Sons of Tucson and Malcolm in the Middle.
A press release from Epix released last week reveals that Holland, amongst other names including Todd Field and Lawrence O’Donnell, have signed ‘development deals’ with the network.
It should be interesting to hear more about this new show as further details emerge!
Linwood Boomer, who was of course the creator of Malcolm in the Middle and was the original ‘genius’ that the character of Malcolm was modelled on, has been speaking at the Los Angeles Comedy Shorts Film Festival.
He had some advice for anyone trying to get a job writing comedy for TV — just write lots and lots of scripts.
Linwood Boomer started as an actor, became a writer, made enough money, and retired.
Write TV spec scripts. I wrote Malcolm as a spec script just to keep in practice. The guy at FOX who bought it got fired for some other reason and we were ignored for 12 episodes. By then we had critical acclaim so they poured all kinds of money into it. We had seven years of doing whatever we wanted to. It was like winning the lottery.”
“How to get a job in TV? Write scripts and send them out. You need four or five good scripts and they will do your auditioning for you. If you don’t get any calls write some more.”
Sons of Tucson is as close to a Malcolm in the Middle reunion as there ever has been, but its all behind the scenes. As I’m sure you know Son of Tucson is produced by Justin Berfield (Reese) and directed/produced by Todd Holland who worked on many Malcolm episodes.
Justin was responsible for this reunion and had this to say…
We all knew a show revolving around three young kids requires someone who’s done it before and Todd fit that bill immediately, I’d actually been dying to work with him again for the last three years, so I’m glad everything worked out.
The reason why we brought a lot of the people from Malcolm is, especially when you’re working with kids, time is extremely important, and that’s a group of people that worked together for seven years straight, and they all know what to do and the timing needed to get it done.
You can’t say enough about that when you’re on a TV show with kids. You want everything to run as smoothly as possible because, especially with Ben Stockham who plays Robby, you only have him on set working hours like four hours a day, and if he’s in three or four scenes, everything has got to be running smoothly, and so that’s why we brought on everybody from Malcolm, not only because they’re the best if not some of the best in the business at their jobs, but because they all have a short-hand knowledge with each other, and they just work together great.
People who made the move (and their Malcolm contribution):
Justin tweeted the good news this week that early figures say 4.5 million tuned in for the Sons of Tucson premiere. Lets hope the success continues, the second episode airs tonight (March 21) 9:30/8:30 Central on FOX.
Here’s a round-up of what Justin has had to say about himself and the show in recent weeks…
During Malcolm in the Middle – I think I was around 15 or 16 – instead of running to my trailer after a scene I would stay on set. I would ask questions. I would hang out with the crew. I would hang out with the grips, you know, the guys doing all the work. I would ask questions, and I would look around. I would talk to the writers. I actually went to Linwood Boomer a few times with some treatments, ideas for some episodes. I’d submit it to him. He’d give me his notes. So it was actually really early in the process or early in Malcolm where I would start doing that. I was always thinking towards the future. So that was with it for me. – MediaWeek
The idea came up from our creators, Tommy Dewey and Greg Bratman. They brought this idea to us way back when, and we just sort of developed it from an idea to scripts. Finally, we took it to Fox because I had some relationships there obviously, and they purchased it from us. It was exciting. It was like our first scripted show that we sold as a company at J2, and we couldn’t be happier with the people that we’re working with and the two guys that wrote it. Visually and maybe tonally, everyone’s going to compare it to Malcolm, but I think story wise you can’t really compare it to any show that’s been out there. It’s a truly unique concept, and we’re excited that Fox and everyone has a vision to see this through because on the face of it, it is kind of crazy. It’s kind of out there, but they were behind it from day one. It’s not really a concept that comes up too much in the show, and it sort of naturally weaves its way into every script, so it’s not like if someone tunes in four episodes into the season that they’re going to be lost. It’s really easy to catch up on it. – tvismypacifier.com
I don’t really consider myself the big boss, but that’s the title they’ve given me. I act the same way I did before – just be respectful to everyone. As long as everyone does their job, hopefully we will have a successful show. That’s all you can hope for. It should be simple. That’s my philosophy. – zap2it.com
“Being in front of the camera, you never got to see the whole process from the conception of the script all the way through to the filming process. And building the pilot…selling this little inkling of an idea has just been eye-opening for me, I especially love the whole casting process because I’ve been on the other side of the process in those rooms, and now I get to sit behind the camera and sort of–” “…Judge!” Tyler Labine pipes up, and they both laugh. – examiner.com
Network brass were hovering around when the show was in its nascent stages. “That’s a heavy understatement” says Justin…Todd Holland adds “You have never had so much participation, shall we say. I mean, it really started to be like, ‘Please love us less.’” All that attention from the top caused a good bit of frustration, it would seem. “It’s like a parent that doesn’t give you clear instructions and you don’t know how to please them,”…“So it’s always like a weird thing trying to figure out: What do they want? What are they saying? Even if we did understand the instructions, would we agree enough to do it that way, or would we have to push back?” Berfield and his partner Jason Felts had tried to interest the illustrious Holland in directing other projects of theirs in the past, to no avail. “I think it’s good it didn’t work out in the beginning. It was a learning process for us. I was young, just starting out as a producer, seeing different material – striking out a few times, I think it helps you grow.” – jaxobserver.com
Todd Holland had a few other things to say on ‘Tucson…
Holland acknowledged that after Berfield and his business partner presented him with the script to consider, he didn’t even read it at first, because he had what he described as a sort of patronizing “Uncle Todd attitude” resulting from having known Berfield since he was a kid. But he finally got around to reading the script, at which point, “suddenly, it was business.” – npr.org
“It was the simplest thing on the planet – it was funny.”…”So much stuff that has ‘comedy’ labeled on it is not funny to me, so I have a simplistic little litmus test: Did I laugh when I read it?”…“Humor is better as a side dish,”…”It’s like fettuccine alfredo, nobody wants it as a whole dish, but on the side, then it’s really yummy,” That said, “Sons” has a wacky premise that is inherently funny. “There are four little con artists, one of which is not little,”…But it is also about the idea of a chosen family. “In Sons, four people are slammed together to make a family, thrown together by circumstance, and they end up having a sense of place from sharing their lives together,”…”But, we’re not schmaltzy. We’re the anti-schmaltz.” – dailybruin.com
“I never totally saw Sons of Tucson as clearly as when we saw Tyler Labine. When we found him, it was like, ‘Oh my God. I totally see the show,’”…”Now I can’t read our scripts without hearing him. He’s such a specific voice and he so captures the lovable scoundrel.”…”Sons is about the inevitable gravitational pull of family, even when no one actually wants to be a family. Even in this crazy, cut-throat, spiraling-down-the-drain world we live in – people still choose family,“…”They may not be bio-parents or blood relations — but family matters.” – tvguide.com
If anything, his new show is “the anti-’Earl.’ ” “We heard about ‘Earl’ a lot” while the show was being developed, he said. “So we really worked hard” to distinguish it…the show was much more a hybrid of his previous series “Malcolm in the Middle” and “The Larry Sanders Show.” – latimes.com
US readers can watch Sons of Tucson for free on Hulu, iTunes and FOX.
Malcolm in the Middle creator (read: genius) Linwood Boomer turns 54 today, we here at the VC hope he is having a great day!
Sadly for Boomer his latest TV pilot The Karenskys wasn’t picked up by CBS this year. It could possibly still happen, however information is lacking, I for one would sure love to see it, so we can only hope other networks see sense!
Justin is to start a competition to win a chance to meet him and visit the set of the new show he is producing Sons of Tucson.
There are few details currently, but it seems the competition with be through Twitter and you need to go follow Justin to find out how to take part. He’s recently moved Twitter accounts, you can now follow him at http://twitter.com/justinberfield (a faker got it at first) instead of his original account http://twitter.com/justin_berfield. Justin will conduct some sort of 5 question challenge with his followers with 1 ultimate winner. During the set visit the winner will have a photo snapped and posted on Justin’s Twitter account. Its being run by Justin’s management and not affiliated with Fox Broadcasting, 20th Century Fox Television, J2TV or it’s affiliates. A background check may be required (yeah, weird right?)
We don’t know when the visit will take place or when the competition will start. We guess sometime later this year while the show is still filming. Its also unclear if its open to non-US residents.
Sons of Tucson is in short a family comedy about three brothers who hire a charming, wayward schemer to stand in as their father when their real one goes to prison. Its being produced by J2TV Justin Berfield and Jason Felt’s production company. They got legendary Malcolm in the Middle director/producer Todd Holland to direct (and executive produce) the Pilot, which you can watch in full above. Its written by Tommy Dewey & Greg Bratman and stars Tyler Labine (Reaper) as Ron the wayward schemer. They have landed with FOX and is set to premiere midseason (spring 2010) and will air Sundays at 8:30pm, which you may recall was Malcolm in the Middle’s original timeslot when that series premiered back in January 2000.
They have had to recast the older (Brandon) and younger (Robby) kid characters, and are currently running an open casting call, so if you look around 14 or 9 and are an aspiring actor its well worth checking out! Audition videos have been popping up on YouTube. Frank Dolce as Gary continues his part.
I managed to get a few quick questions in with Justin over Twitter. Why the recast? According to Justin its due to scheduling issues. Justin also confirms that Todd Holland will be directing the Pilot remake and the first two episodes, which is great news.
The trailer for those who can’t handle the full episode…
Berfield spoke to the Star last week from his Venice, Calif., office.
Was it a huge relief when Fox picked up the series?
“Yeah, it is always nerve-racking. You never know. You work really hard to put a show together, but there are only so many time slots.
“I was excited about this one because it got me back to Fox, which is where I was for seven years (with ‘Malcolm’). It is great to be back home and to have a show I think will really find an audience.”
Do any of you have ties to Tucson?
“No. No ties whatsoever except that Tommy, Greg and I love Tucson. I haven’t been there in a little while. I’ll be organizing a trip for the guys and for all of us at some point.”
What were your first impressions when the series was pitched to you?
“I loved it. I loved the notion of three boys of three different ages having to make their way in their new lives.”
Why cast Labine as Snuffkin?
“Tyler is incredible. He is probably one of the funniest guys I’ve met or been around in a long time. He is great with the boys and a real leader.
“He is really, really talented, and we all had a hand in casting him in the show. The studio and the network are really excited about him. I can’t imagine anyone else playing Ron.”
Any favorite characters?
“Being a former child actor and having grown up on television myself, I think all three of the boys are great. They are all fresh and really good. We were able to pull Frank Dolce off Broadway. He was in ‘Billy Elliot.’
“Davis Cleveland is playing Robby. He is very funny. He is a great kid, and his timing is incredible. Troy Gentile has been in several movies, including ‘Hotel for Dogs,’ and he is doing very well.”
Todd Holland one of the main Malcolm in the Middle producers & directors caused quite a bit of controversy last month when he spoke on the Taking It to the Streets: LGBT Directors Get Political panel, sponsored by Outfest, a leading gay and lesbian film festival.
“my whole thing about being political is kissing my husband at the Emmys” and “just living honestly” was also a “political thing.” Later in the discussion Todd, citing the extremely competitive nature of the entertainment business, said that when young, gay actors ask for his advice on whether or not they should come out in Hollywood, “I say, Stay in the closet.”
Todd’s advise is based on personal experience, he came out later in life but his brother did so at a younger age and their parents reacted badly. However there was great shock and concern about his viewpoint.
“As an openly gay man in Hollywood, I know firsthand the tremendous challenges that people throughout the industry face in terms of being open about who they are. For people who know me, they know that I believe it’s important for people to live openly and authentically, and I am sorry for my poorly chosen words at Outfest. At the end of the day, I hope my comments do not prevent us from having honest, thoughtful conversations about the significant barriers that make being an out actor in Hollywood an ongoing obstacle.”
However he does not say he will stop advising young gay actors to stay closeted. Being young and gay myself I have a little insight into this however I’m certainly no Hollywood actor. Coming out should be a personal choice and done when people are ready, however if the people around you or the industry you work in won’t accept you, leave, its their loss.
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