Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Can Rob Thomas bring network TV back to Austin?

No, I'm not talking about the guy from some band (or at least that band). I'm talking about Rob Thomas, the guy who grew up in San Marcos and was a teacher before some middle-school novels changed his life. The guy from the Austin band Hey Zeus. The guy behind Veronica Mars. The guy who fairly recently moved back to Austin from Los Angeles.

Most important, I'm talking about Rob Thomas the guy whose single-camera Fox pilot Little in Common is set in Austin, but didn't shoot here (that's him on the pilot set above). Here's how it's described:

"With three families united through their kids’ Little League sports, it centers on the Wellers (Rob Corddry, Paula Marshall), who move from San Jose, Calif., to Austin, Texas, but find that their adjustment won't be quite that easy considering their Latino neighbors, the Pachecos (Lombardo Boyar, Alanna Ubach), have a radically different approach to child-rearing than they do, while their other new neighborhood acquaintances, the African American Burlesons (Kevin Hart, Gabrielle Union), take sports very seriously.

The question now is whether the show will be picked up (which seems likely given the cast, the folks behind it and similarities to Modern Family) and how much of the series will shoot in Austin. The first question will be answered at Fox upfronts--a dog and pony show for new shows--this coming Monday. The second is murkier. Yes, the show is set in Austin, and, yes, Thomas lives here now. But consider Kyle Killen whose short-lived Lone Star shot in Dallas and was set in Houston. Killen lives in Austin and made a last-minute attempt to move the shoot to Austin. It failed. Sometimes the creator doesn't have that much power.

But with a trained crew left over from Friday Night Lights and still no word on whether reshoots of Lifetime's Meet Jane will reap a series pickup (Lifetime had its upfronts in April), Austin is ripe for another network series. This could be it. Stay tuned.

FYI: We should also get word next Tuesday on ABC's Dallas-shot Good Christian Bitches (or whatever it's going to be called) and next Wednesday on TNT's Dallas reimagining as those networks stage upfronts.

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