Jon Lovett, a former speech writer for President Barack Obama, who left the administration over the summer to pursue a writing career in Hollywood, has made good on his goal. NBC has given a put-pilot commitment on a new 30-minute single-camera, half-hour comedy, "1600 Penn."
It will focus on the lighter side of a fictional president’s dysfunctional family living at the most famous address in the world. (Imagine what the swing-set in the backyard looks like…"Hey kids, whatever you do, don’t press that red button!").
This is the first comedy about The White House and the president to reach one of the major networks. Prime time had some success with NBC’s "West Wing" and ABC’s "Commander in Chief," and Comedy Central had a short-lived series that featured a ‘Dubya’ look-alike called "That’s My Bush," which lampooned a sitting president while UPN did a conceptualized comedy set in the era of Abraham Lincoln when they did "The Secret Life of Desmond Pfeiffer." But this is the first 30-minute sit-com.
This is a pretty significant event in the television world for a couple of reasons. One is mentioned just above, but NBC has only given out a handful of put-pilot commitments for the 2012-13 season, which shows the faith NBC has in previously untested Lovett.
Lovett will be on the comedy project as executive producer and will be joined by Modern Family director, Jason Winer and "The Book of Mormon" star Josh Gad also as executive producers.
From a comedy perspective, I’m interested to see how this will play out and if it can support a substantial enough television audience to keep it on the air. In my view it would need really solid writing that focuses on the family’s struggles, (ala the Huxtables in "The Cosby Show" or The Baxters in "Family Ties"), because it won’t float on the concept alone.