Gay-inclusive sitcom Five Houses is back in business after seven years
In an unusual TV comeback NBC is resurrecting the suburban comedy Five Houses seven years after it was conceived at Fox. NBC is in negotiations with the show's creators, Todd Holland and John Riggi, to order a pilot for the comedy, which revolves around five families living on a suburban Los Angeles cul-de-sac. The story of Five Houses began in 1997. "It was a spec pilot John and I wrote in just a few days out of love," Holland said. "We took our both collective communal living experiences and fictionalized the neighborhood based on [these] experiences."
In the original pilot a gay couple, modeled after Riggi and his partner, move into a suburban neighborhood. The two set up the project at producer 20th Century Fox TV, and the Fox network ordered it as a pilot targeted for fall 1998. And while Holland said the original Five Houses was never to be about a gay couple but a show about communal life in the melting pot of different cultures, it was perceived by some executives as a gay show. "I really believe that we were ahead of our time," Holland said of the show, which was developed a year before NBC's gay-themed Will & Grace came on the air and during the demise of ABC's Ellen in its last season, following the coming out of its star, Ellen DeGeneres.
But Five Houses never faded away. People in the industry were buzzing about it; it was also featured on "The Other Network," a traveling festival of failed pilots. This year, as both Holland and Riggi found themselves under deals at 20th TV, the two decided to revisit the show. They reworked and updated their original premise, centering the show on a young couple, transplants from a small Oklahoma town, who are the newest cul-de-sac residents. One of the five families will still be a gay couple. Holland and Riggi will write the new Five Houses and will executive produce. Holland, who won an Emmy for directing the pilot for another family comedy, Fox's Malcolm in the Middle, is also attached to direct. Some members of the original cast, which included Margaret Cho, may also return. In addition to Five Houses, Holland and Riggi worked together on HBO's The Larry Sanders Show. Holland most recently directed and executive produced Fox's critically praised but short-lived drama Wonderfalls. In addition to his Emmy for directing the pilot for Malcolm, he won two more directing Emmys, one for Malcolm and one for Larry Sanders. Riggi created and executive produced The WB Network's short-lived series My Guide to Becoming a Rock Star. His credits also include Fox's The Bernie Mac Show.