Stephen Curry and Nadine Garner.
Stephen Curry is playing the curmudgeonly lead character who moves in with his daughter and her boyfriend in Mr. Black, a sitcom commissioned by Network Ten.
Created by Adam Zwar (Squinters, Wilfred, Agony) and co-written with Amanda Brotchie (Squinters, Lowdown), the eight-part series is being produced by CJZ and directed by Brotchie and Clayton Jacobson.
Nadine Garner (The Doctor Blake Mysteries, City Homicide) is Mr. Black’s estranged wife Rowena with Sophie Wright (Kinky Boots) as their daughter Angela and Nick Russell (Winners & Losers) as her sensitive, new-age boyfriend Fin. The other series regular is Paul Denny (Lowdown) as a character named Malcolm.
CJZ MD Nick Murray tells IF the idea for the sitcom came up while Zwar was developing another project with CJZ’s head of entertainment and comedy Damian Davis. The CJZ creatives loved the concept of the lead, a former sports journalist who insists on being called Mr. Black, being forced to move in with his daughter and her boyfriend due to ill health. Much of the humour turns on the fact that Mr. Black despises Fin and does all he can to try to break up the relationship.
Ten’s head of comedy Paul Leadon said: “It is a delight to be working with Adam and Amanda. They are an incredibly strong creative duo. Throw in Stephen Curry, Nadine Garner, an amazing cast, plus the team at CJZ and we have all the ingredients for a very special narrative comedy.”
Screen Australia and Film Victoria are investors in the production which is shooting in Melbourne.
CJZ has produced two pilots which will screen on Ten’s Pilot Week. Sketch comedy Skit Happens, which premieres on Sunday at 8 pm, stars Jenna Owen, Heath Franklin, Vita Carbone, Stuart Daulman, Janis McGavin, Josh Glanc and Neel Kolhatkar.
The directors are Kacie Anning (who collaborated with CJZ on the ABC ME comedy You’re Skitting Me) and Nikos Andronicos (The Check Out, Sammy J, The Ronnie Johns Half Hour).
Shunned politician Sam Dastyari and a panel including comedian Becky Lucas, former Olympian Stephanie Rice and PR guy Greg Baxter feature in Disgrace!, a half-hour of opinion, insight and laughs at 8.30 pm.
Murray is keen to emphasize the diverse cast in Skit Happens– contrary to the flak which Ten took for the seemingly white male bias of most of the casts of the Pilot Week shows- and is very pleased with both shows.
CJZ set up a development fund with funding from Screen Australia’s Enterprise Industry program so it drew on that money to develop Mr. Black before pitching the comedy to Ten.
“It is expensive and risky to fund our own projects but it means those projects are in better shape when you pitch them to networks, you can start casting at an earlier stage and talk to international partners,” he said.