The Gonzo Life of Mr. Anderson

Apr 28, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Good things come to those who wait.

That’s how The WB feels about comedic actor Anthony Anderson, who is headlining a family sitcom pilot based on his life for the network this year.

The WB’s comedy executives first met Mr. Anderson three years ago at a general meeting and wanted to develop a show around him but weren’t able to finalize a deal, said Mike Clements, co-senior VP of comedy development at The WB. Mr. Anderson went on to build an impressive film resume with roles in Barbershop, Me, Myself & Irene and Big Momma’s House.

So this year when Mr. Anderson and his writing partner Adam Glass were pitching a fully developed idea for a family sitcom focusing on fathers and sons, The WB jumped at the chance.

“It was just one of these ideas that was a family idea, which is always something that we are looking for,” Mr. Clements said. “It had a unique comedic point of view in that it was taking elements from Anthony’s real life and the kinds of stories that could only be true. He’s such an enthusiastic and energetic guy that when he was telling us these stories we literally hadn’t laughed like that in a really long time.”

The sitcom, All About the Andersons, stars Mr. Anderson as a struggling actor with a 6-year-old son who moves back to his parents’ house and lives in the garage because his parents rented his old room to a medical student.

“Since the age of 6 my parents have told me and my other brothers and sisters that at the age of 18 we had to leave the house,” he said. “They were required by law to provide for us until 18, and after that we were on our own. I’m the oldest. I took this to heart.”

Mr. Anderson left home at 18 on a talent scholarship to Howard University. After college, he returned home, and that’s where the sitcom picks up on his life, with a few modifications, including the son and the med student.

“When I returned home, after a while my father didn’t want me home,” Mr. Anderson said. “Admittedly so, I was chilling. I didn’t have a job. I was like, `I’m just going to chill for a little bit.”’

After about a year, Mr. Anderson’s father started to make life a bit more difficult. He took out all the phone jacks in the house and installed a pay phone in the living room. He decided Anthony should pay for his own food, so he put padlocks on the refrigerator. He went to Sears and bought a coin-operated washer and dryer so Anthony had to pay to wash his clothes. He locked up the big-screen TV in a cabinet so Anthony had to turn the TV on through the doors and listen to it.

“That’s how my father systematically tried to get me out of the house,” Mr. Anderson said. His father’s exploits provide much of the comic material for the show.

After The WB bought the idea, the network introduced Mr. Anderson and Mr. Glass to Marco Pennette, a show runner whose credits include Caroline in the City, and director Jamie Widdoes, who directed the pilots of Reba and Greetings From Tucson. All four are executive producing the show for Warner Bros. Television.

The WB is enthusiastic about the Andersons pilot. After the script was turned in, network executives came back with only a few notes, Mr. Anderson said.

“We’re a network that always has notes,” Mr. Clements said. “We had this table read where we were compelled to stand up and give them a standing ovation.”

Mr. Clements said the pilot would be a versatile show that would fit several places on the schedule.