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ABC’s new city-slickers-move-to-farm comedy Bless This Mess is set in Nebraska because the tourism board gave them enough money to pay “for the whole first season,” star Dax Shepard joked at TCA.
When a TV critic from Omaha informed them the tourism board’s catchphrase is “It’s Not For Everyone,” a charmed EP Elizabeth Meriwether announced she had dibs on that for the show.
Single-camera comedy Bless This Mess stars Lake Bell and Shepard as a newlywed couple whose plan to ditch big city living for a simpler life in Nebraska doesn’t go as expected. The cast also includes Ed Begley Jr., Pam Grier, JT Neal and Christina Offley.
In the pilot, Bell does a scene with a docile cow with big melting eyes. Critics wondered about that process. “They’re notoriously bad actors,” Bell joked. But Shepard jumped in to reveal the truth: Bell could “hardly hear her own dialogue, because the Emmy buzz was so loud” for the cow during its performance.
One or two TV critics were willing to acknowledge a passing knowledge of CBS’s late 60’s/early 70’s sitcom Green Acres, which similarly is about New York socialites who buy a farm and amuse the locals. They noted several similarities between the two series. Begley said he loved Green Acres, explaining to some clueless critics what it was. He acknowledged the “similar plot line” but added, “It’s amazing what you an say on ABC now at 9:30.”
Cast and producers got asked to pitch their country cred. Meriwether said she is from Chicago and drove through Nebraska many times, impressed with its “expanse of sky.” Begley said he has grown his own food since the 70s and has been to Nebraska often where he loves the locals.
And Pam Grier said she has chickens, and goes home to Colorado between gigs, which led to a question about her future on The L Word.
The pickup gives New Girl creator Meriwether two series on ABC; she also is executive producing freshman comedy Single Parents.
Mess originated at 20th Century Fox TV and was set up at Fox where it received an off-cycle pilot order early this year.
The series pickup by ABC, whose parent company Disney is buying key 21st Century Fox assets, including 20th TV, marks the first official order for new ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke. Bless This Mess will be a co-production between soon-to-be corporate siblings 20th Century Fox TV and ABC Studios.
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