In April, ABC is expected to premiere the Pittsburgh-set sitcom "Romantically Challenged" starring Alyssa Milano.
Come fall, CBS may bring another Pittsburgh-set comedy to prime time. The pilot episode of "Livin' on a Prayer" from several "How I Met Your Mother" writers will film in mid-April, and CBS executives will announce their fall prime-time schedule in May.
Kourtney Kang wrote the "Prayer" script with "Mother" writer Joe Kelly, and she had no trouble convincing him or executive producers Carter Bays and Craig Thomas about setting the show in Pittsburgh. She attended college at the University of Pittsburgh and graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University.
"We wanted to give the show a different feel than 'How I Met Your Mother,' " which is set in New York, said Ms. Kang, who grew up outside Philadelphia. "Carter Bays grew up in Cleveland, which has a similar sort of sensibility, and Joe Kelly grew up outside of Atlanta but had friends in Pittsburgh, so he ended up visiting a few times. We wanted somewhere that felt like a real place. I think 'How I Met Your Mother' is fantastical. It's Ted telling his story of finding the mother, and I think it's a little heightened. We wanted this show to feel different."
"Prayer" will follow six characters, including a couple in their early 30s who have been together a year and a half and are considering moving in together. One character is a waitress, another works at the zoo; all are working class. Mt. Lebanon native Joe Manganiello is the only actor to be cast so far in "Prayer." (Ms. Kang said the show's production company has not yet secured rights to the Bon Jovi song "Livin' on a Prayer," but she is optimistic that will happen.)
The series' concept came out of conversations among the writers/producers, which they found often devolved into discussing details from their own lives. Mr. Kelly will get married in the spring -- Ms. Kang will be his "best man" -- and there was talk of things his fiancee did, and Ms. Kang would bring up things her husband did.
"We have to stop talking about this stuff. What are we going to write?" Ms. Kang said before the four decided to write about the topics that kept coming up in conversation. "We have all been in relationships where it's two equals, two best friends, people who are flawed that show a relationship in all its grittiness and unpleasantness. That's what makes it interesting and fun."
The show's setting within a specific Pittsburgh neighborhood has not been settled upon, but there's a chance Pittsburghese will make its way into the show.
"If I have any say, yes," Ms. Kang said when asked about use of the Pittsburgh accent that's so often absent from Pittsburgh-set TV series. "Unfortunately I'm not always the one who makes the final decision in the television world. But if it's up to me, it will be chock-full of 'yinz' and 'dahntahn' and all of that."
TV editor Rob Owen: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1112. Read the Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook. First Published March 1, 2010 5:00 AM