ABC is taking a trip to “Cougar Town” with Courteney Cox and “Scrubs” creator Bill Lawrence.
In what will be her first half-hour comedy project since “Friends,” Ms. Cox will play an attractive and newly single 40-year-old mother of a teenage son. ABC Studios, which has deals with both Ms. Cox and Mr. Lawrence, is producing.
The Alphabet network has ordered a pilot for the project, which will be a single-camera comedy. No script has been written yet, but Mr. Lawrence told TelevisionWeek that ABC has asked him to have a pilot ready to shoot by the end of January. Under that scenario, if ABC decides to move forward with the project, it could be on the air by late spring.
“I chose to do this because Courteney is funny and, more importantly, fearless when doing self-deprecating comedy about what it really means to be 40 and single,” Mr. Lawrence said in a statement released by ABC Studios. “Plus, the trials and tribulations of the 40-year-old woman are my wheelhouse.”
In an interview, Mr. Lawrence added that the idea for “Cougar Town” came from his wife, actress Christa Miller.
“She’s cartoonishly candid about what it means” to be a 40-ish woman, Mr. Lawrence said.
He related a story about wanting to go out to dinner with his wife on a whim.
“She looked at me and said, ‘The days of just going out to dinner in this town are over. I need at least 40 minutes to get ready,'” Mr. Lawrence said.
He said “Cougar Town” would have Ms. Cox playing a woman who “owns” her imperfections, from C-section scars to possible use of Botox.
While the name of the show is a play on the common term for an attractive older woman, it also will refer to the name of the high school football team in the Florida town where Ms. Cox’s character lives. “I can already see the interstitials ABC [marketing] will use, with the claws scratching across the screen,” Mr. Lawrence joked.
Ms. Cox and Mr. Lawrence most recently worked together on “Scrubs,” with Ms. Cox guest-starring in the first three episodes of the show’s upcoming eighth season. Mr. Lawrence was also a staff writer on “Friends” during the show’s freshman season.
Mr. Lawrence said the “Scrubs” stint served as a “mutual test run” for both parties to see whether they would enjoy working together.
“Since ‘Friends,’ I have been a huge fan of Bill Lawrence and his comedic sensibilities,” Ms. Cox said. “After having such a great time with him on ‘Scrubs,’ it felt like the perfect fit.”
Mr. Lawrence will write “Cougar Town” with “Scrubs” writer Kevin Biegel. Mr. Lawrence and Ms. Cox will executive produce via their respective production companies, Doozer and Coquette.
While casting beyond Ms. Cox hasn’t taken place, Mr. Lawrence said it’s almost a certainty that his wife, Ms. Miller, will have a role in the show.
“There are also roles that are earmarked for people who have been on ‘Scrubs’ and I’m going to fight to get them on,” he added, noting that it’s unlikely the leads of “Scrubs” would be series regulars on “Cougar Town.”
Mr. Lawrence said partnering with Ms. Cox had both positives and negatives.
On the plus side, the combination of Mr. Lawrence and Ms. Cox has allowed the duo to skip some of the early stages of development, since ABC has such confidence in both producers.
On the other hand, “If this doesn’t work, I’m not going to be able to say the executives at the network [messed] it up,” Mr. Lawrence said. “I can’t blame them if it doesn’t work.”
Ms. Cox’s last series was the FX drama “Dirt,” which was produced by ABC Studios and ran for two seasons.
Mr. Lawrence is represented by ICM, Howard West and attorney Jared Levine. Ms. Cox is represented by William Morris and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
(Updated 9:20 a.m.: Corrected name of Christa Miller)