Eugenio Derbez is ready to crossover into English-language television.
The 54-year-old Mexican comedian, writer and director and his 3Pas producing partner Ben Odell have signed a first-look deal with Universal Television and sold their first two English-language comedies.
Derbez may be best known for Instructions Not Included, the highest-grossing Spanish-language film of all time, but he got his start in television.
The UTV deal marks Derbez’s first season developing English-language television, though both he and Odell have experience in the Spanish-language market.
Early in his career, Odell created and wrote some of Colombia’s highest-rated series; Derbez wrote, produced, directed and starred in numerous Spanish-language comedies and dramas for Televisa.
Derbez’s series, which have aired on Univision, have helped him amass a major stateside following that includes nearly 18 million fans on Facebook and Twitter.
As part of their stateside push, ABC is developing single-camera comedy Don’t Judge Me, which is inspired by Derbez’s life and revolves around Ignacio Galves, who is raising three kids with three ex-wives in a story of a man caught between his parenting style, pleasing the mothers of the kids and making room for the new woman in his life. Derbez will exec produce the comedy, which will be written by Aseem Batra and Eduardo Cisneros. Cisneros, who will reunite with frequent collaborator Derbez on the comedy, will co-exec produce.
NBC, meanwhile, has picked up script The Great Brown Hope, a single-camera comedy created by Isaac Gonzalez (Bordertown). The comedy centers on Nick, who after he’s kicked out of UCLA following a legendary semester, moves back home with his smothering, working-class — and very disappointed — Mexican family in Logan Heights, San Diego.
Gonzalez will also be credited as a co-EP on the comedy, which is also exec produced by Derbez and Odell.
Both projects hail from Universal Television.
The comedies come as diversity continues to be a high priority for broadcast networks, who this development season have put a focus on family comedy. “We’re all trying to figure out the family dynamic that’s not currently on the air,” ABC Studios executive vice president Patrick Moran told THR, noting that his studio in particular was looking for diverse voices — particularly Latino.
For its part, ABC recently picked up a family comedy inspired by the life of comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias (Cristela) as the network has found success with such diverse family fare as Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, Dr. Ken as well as veteran The Goldbergs.
In Derbez, the networks have a brand star with a built-in following attached, which — should either comedy move forward — would give either network a leg up with marketing and public awareness. (ABC, for its part, found success with Pryanka Chopra and Quantico, utilizing her massive social media fan base to help launch the series as one of the few breakouts of the 2015-16 broadcast season.)