They say you can't choose your family, but you can if you're John Leguizamo and you've co-created one of this season's many semi-autobiographical comedy pilots.
Last month, ABC placed a pilot order for a single-camera comedy from Leguizamo and writer/executive producer Chris Sheridan (Family Guy) inspired by the Latino comedian's life as a husband and father out of his element after moving from the working-class Bronx to New York's upscale Upper West Side.
When the untitled project switched to the traditional multi-camera format, Sheridan was replaced by veteran comedy scribe Jeff Astrof, who has served as writer and executive producer on a number of multi-cam comedies including Friends, The New Adventures of Old Christine, $#*! My Dad Says, and Grounded For Life. Now that the creative team has been established, the project has filled out some of the roles, including Leguizamo's mother, wife, son, and best friend.
Fresh off her guest-starring appearance as Sofia Vergara's mother on Modern Family, Elizabeth Peña will once again play the mother of an actor only a few years younger than herself. In this case, she is only two years older than Leguizamo. Talk about babies having babies! Regardless of the close proximity in age, Peña will play Olga, the traditional Latina mother who seeks to keep John grounded in his roots despte the changes in his life.
In 1987, Peña starred in her own sitcom on ABC entitled I Married Dora, about a housekeeper from El Salvador who marries her employer in order to avoid deportation. Although the show only lasted 13 episodes, it was memorable for featuring Juliette Lewis in her first regular series role. More recently, Peña guest-starred on canceled series such as NBC's Prime Suspect, USA Network's Common Law, and ABC's reboot of Charlie's Angels.
Groundlings Theater alumna Andrea Savage has been tapped to play John's privileged wife with the intriguing name, Juicy.
Best known for her roles in feature comedies Step Brothers and Dinner For Schmucks, Savage created and starred in several sketches on HBO's Funny Or Die Presents... and also provided voicework for the final season of the animated series The Life and Times of Tim.
Child actor Luke Ganalon has landed the role of John's son, Toby. Due to their comfortable lifestyle, John worries that his children are becoming spoiled and losing touch with reality.
Ganalon has appeared on ABC's Don't Trust The B---- In Apartment 23 and Grey's Anatomy, as well as Disney Channel's Shake It Up!, and also starred in the 2013 film Bless Me, Ultima.
With the cancelation of Starz's Boss, Troy Garity has boarded the Leguizamo project as Crash, John's loyal friend from the old neighborhood. Now serving as his best buddy's personal assistant, Crash has also migrated from the Bronx and lives in the basement of John's brownstone apartment.
Garity played recurring character Sam Miller on the first season of Boss and was upgraded to the main cast for Season 2. Nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance in the 2003 TV movie Soldier's Girl, Garity has also appeared in Gangster Squad, Sunshine, and the Barbershop films, among others.
While this project hasn't attracted the big names that other pilots have this season, the cast looks solid so far. Do you like where this is headed?