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Posted at 04:11 PM ET, 10/24/2011

NBC orders White House sitcom pilot from former Obama speechwriter


Jon Lovett, a former White House speechwriter that has left his job there to pursue screenwriting in Los Angeles. (Marvin Joseph - WASHINGTON POST)

NBC has ordered a pilot for a sitcom about a dysfunctional First Family in the White House, which will be exec produced by, among others, former Obama speech-writer Jon Lovett.

Lovett left his Washington gig in September to write for television out west because he told The Post’s Jason Horowitz, “I would like to be able to write in my own voice.”

It’s important to note that ordering a pilot does not mean we will ever see an actual series called “1600 Penn” from 20th Century Fox on the NBC lineup.

But the head of NBC programming, Jennifer Salke was, until July, an exec vp at 20th Century Fox TV where she developed new series (including comedies “Glee” and “Modern Family”), so it’s a near cert she’ll champion “1600 Penn” getting on NBC’s schedule in a big way.

During his Washington life, Lovett wrote many of Obama’s speeches about financial reform, seeded laugh lines into Rahm Emanuel’s commencement speeches, and wrote jokes for Obama’s White House Correspondents’ dinner remarks, for which he “went into comedy overdrive,” his former boss David Axelrod told The Post’s Horowitz.

NBC had great ratings success years ago with a White House drama called “West Wing” which starred Martin Sheen as POTUS and whose writers included congressional staffer (now cable-show host) Lawrence O’Donnell, as well as former Clinton White House (and Al Gore) speechwriter Eli Attie.

ABC had less success with its White House drama “Commander in Chief” in which Geena Davis landed the POTUS role, noted trade publication Variety which broke the news.

But it’s unclear whether America embraces the idea of laughing at the First Family. Comedy Central’s “That’s My Bush,” about the Bush clan, expired in its infancy, as did UPN network’s “The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer” – which imagined a black butler as the real brains behind the dysfunctional Lincoln White House.

HBO plans to launch a Washington political comedy, “Veep” in ’12, in which Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays a senator who becomes VPOTUS and learns “the job is nothing like she expected.” That one was created by Armando Iannucci, who penned the Oscar nominated “In the Loop,” who’s also exec producing – as is New York Mag’s Frank Rich.

By  |  04:11 PM ET, 10/24/2011

 
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