Is Fox Trying to Steal John Mulaney from NBC?

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The very popular comedian John Mulaney has spent most of his brilliant television career within the NBC universe, but that could be changing very soon. Mulaney might be taking his talents over to Fox. Deadline's Nellie Andreeva reports the multi-camera sitcom, Mulaney, written by Mulaney with Lorne Michaels as executive producer may end up airing on Fox instead of NBC. The network has ordered a script rewrite and, depending on how good the new treatment is, may order six episodes. Mulaney and Martin Short are the only members of the original pilot's strong cast signed on to continue so far. Whether Michaels, another NBC stalwart, would continue as producer is also a question. 

The show, loosely based on Mulaney's life, originally earned a pilot order from NBC to some fanfare. But the peacock passed on it last month. The move by NBC baffled most considering the pedigree behind the project. Besides Mulaney and Short, the cast was rounded out by bold-faced names like Elliot Gould and Saturday Night Live's Nasim Pedrad. With names like that involved, the expectations for the show were pretty high. But NBC decided not to pick up Mulaney for whatever reason and now one of the hottest comedy free agents might be going to a rival network. 

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Mulaney cut his television teeth at NBC's Saturday Night Live and many expected him to return to the show sooner than later. As an established former SNL writer, and one of the co-creators of Stefon, Mulaney was seen by many as the most obvious choice to replace Seth Meyers as SNL's head writer when Meyers graduates to hosting Late Night in January. Some theorized that NBC passed on Mulaney's pilot because they wanted him to take Meyers' place as head writer and Weekend Update host next year. "[Mulaney] didn’t get a series order, which could be the best thing to happen to SNL," Variety's Andrew Wallenstein wrote at the end of SNL's last season. A rumor started on Tumblr that Mulaney was already named head writer proved to not be true, despite the excitement it produced. 

Mulaney also would have been another feather in Michaels' growing comedy cap at NBC, too. With Saturday Night LiveThe Tonight ShowLate Night and, potentially, Mulaney, Michaels was positioning himself as a major powerbroker within the Rockefeller Center halls. (Now Michaels only has the three most prestigious properties in late night TV, so he's doing OK.)

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.