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ABC buys a family sitcom starring Henry Winkler

As hospital administrator Sy Mittleman on Childrens Hospital, Jean-Ralphio and Mona-Lisa’s father Dr. Saperstein on Parks And Recreation, and worst effing lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn on Arrested Development, Henry Winkler has proven that he’s still got chops in adventurous single-camera comedies. Now ABC is banking on that translating back to the traditional multi-cam format where the Happy Days star first made his name, with Winkler starring in a new, as-yet-untitled pilot written by his son Max and son-in-law Rob Reinis.

The brothers-in-law collaborated on the project before seeking out multicam veteran and Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal, who came aboard as a co-writer and director. The sitcom focuses on “an emotionally reserved construction worker who learns about love, life, and hugs while unexpectedly living with his in-laws”—in other words, the exact sort of family-friendly formula that made Raymond a success. Rosenthal hasn’t worked in primetime since the end of Raymond, choosing instead to help launch a Russian adaptation of that sitcom that was somehow not titled Everybody Loves Borscht. But Max Winkler has spent time directing various episodes of New Girl while setting up a new production company with Jake Johnson, so ABC is confident in giving him and all involved a shot at challenging Chuck Lorre’s multicam empire.

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