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Household Name

Logline: A family gets a chance to buy the house of their dreams but under extremely abnormal circumstances: They must live with the current owner – an eccentric, larger-than-life actress – until she dies.
Cast: Carol Burnett, Mary Holland, Matt Oberg, Timothy Omundson
Creators: Michael Saltzman (W / EP), Amy Poehler (EP), Brooke Posch (EP), Dave Becky (EP), Michael Pelmont (EP)
Studios: Universal TV, Paper Kite

The role of “larger than life actress” is a juicy role for an A-list actress. We had that recently with FX’s Feud luring Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon to television, and previously had seen that in the multi-cam world with Kirstie Alley’s TV Land show, Kirstie. The problem really is in surrounding the world of this character with strong supporting opportunities, something Kirstie most definitely did not do. Can Household Name overcome this trap?

We start off meeting Tim & Wendy Peters, a normal couple looking at an open house. Before we’re done with Page 2, the premise is set out by the real estate agent: famous older actress Vivian Valmont gets to keep living in the house with the new owners until she dies. The house is simply too good to pass up though, with his community college teacher and her Trader Joe’s salary. They’re moving in!

Then we meet Edward, Vivian’s older male friend. He’s asked about the unusual living arrangement, which is chocked up to Vivian not being able to afford the house anymore. Then we get our first glimpse of Vivian, and she’s in full-on “Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard” mode. Complications ensue — Vivian wasn’t really properly briefed on the living arrangements, Vivian can’t stop herself from falling into characters she’s previously played, furniture ends up in a pool, and an unlicensed teen drives a car.

If this was on TV Land, this would be a no-brainer greenlight. The roles for Carol Burnett and Timothy Omundson are fun. The dialogue is often good, though very multi-camy. And everything happens in the pilot that needs to happen.

Part of the problem projecting this show is the schedule. Dr. Ken and Last Man Standing are both likely coming back. Now you could mix in Household Name to give either of them a mid-season breather, keeping a multi-cam block in place. Plus Last Man Standing might run out of steam at some point. Almost every multi-cam is execution dependent, and the cast on this one is certainly strong, but the premise probably doesn’t have legs for a full 22 episodes. Mid-season replacement though? Perhaps…

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