EXCLUSIVE: Strange Calls, a half-hour comedy from writer Donick Cary (New Girl), director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) and producer Aaron Kaplan (The Neighbors), has landed at ABC with a put pilot commitment. Based on an Australian series — which coincidentally also airs on ABC (Australia’s ABC2) – Strange Calls centers on good-hearted, bumbling Boston cop Toby Banks, who is exiled to night duty on Nantucket island, where strange, unexplainable occurrences become the norm nine months out of the year. Working out of a creaky lighthouse on the outskirts of town, he is teamed with Gregor, the eccentric lighthouse keeper and local paranormal authority. The two make an unlikely crimefighting duo dealing with the “strange calls” that come into the station at night. Nantucketer Cary is writing the adaptation and will executive produce with Fleischer; Kapital Entertainment’s Kaplan; as well as Tracey Robertson and Nathan Mayfield, executive producers of the original series, which is produced by their company Hoodlum. 20th Century Fox TV, where Fleischer is under an overall deal, is producing. Fleischer is repped by UTA and Sloane Offer.The Australian Strange Calls, which premieres next Tuesday, was created-directed by Daley Pearson ($quid) based on his 2011 short film and is toplind by the short’s stars — veteran Barry Crocker as Gregor and Toby Truslove as Toby Banks (watch a trailer below). It was conceived as a multiplatform show that invites audiences to communicate with the characters and share “strange” sightings via Twitter and the show’s website.
WME-repped Cary started on Late Night/Late Show With David Letterman where he moved up to head writer at 25. He then worked on The Simpsons, sharing in a best animated series Emmy, created Comedy Central’s animated series Lil’ Bush, which was first show ever to transition from mobile/web to television, and helped run HBO’s Bored To Death as creator/executive producer Jonathan Ames’ No. 2. He is currently a co-executive producer on the Fox/20th TV comedy New Girl, which he joined after the pilot. This is Fleischer’s third sale under the two-year deal with 20th TV he inked in July. He also has two comedies at Fox, including a Stacy Traub-written vehicle starring Rachael Harris and Angela Kinsey, which also has a put pilot commitment. It also has been a busy development season for Kaplan with more than a dozen sales, including two pilot production commitments — one for a Robb and Mark Cullen comedy at ABC and one for a Cathy Yuspa-Josh Goldsmith half-hour at NBC –joined now by the put pilot at ABC. The Strange Calls format, Robertson, Mayfield and Hoodlum are repped by ICM Partners.