Say the words “green light” to an entertainment professional and expect a wide range of emotional reactions. Matt Schlissel, M.F.A. ’15, heard the words “congratulations on your first season of TV,” but he didn’t hear much after that. His writing partner Catlan McClelland, M.F.A. ’14, said he felt relief that he wouldn’t have to sell a kidney for at least another season.
But once the good news set in, McClelland and Schlissel, both SFTV alums and now screenwriting faculty members, set to work on bringing their Fox network animated series “Grimsburg” to the little screen.
Fox is clearly excited about the pair’s concept for “Grimsburg,” the entertainment site Looper reports, with Michael Thorn, president of entertainment, saying, “As we continue to expand our animation brand beyond family comedies, “Grimsburg’s” wildly funny, bizarre and inventive take on the crime genre makes it the perfect next-generation Fox comedy.” “Grimsburg” will not be a dullsville.
McClelland said, “Matt and I wanted to do a sendup of the ‘small-town detective’ genre, where the troubled cop returns to his hometown to solve a case and get back with his ex-wife who is having an affair with the mayor who is building a casino.” Schlissel added, “We originally envisioned the show as live action. Our mensch of a manager Rick Berg hooked us up with CAA agent Chris Licata, and it was his idea to market the show as animation. And boy, was he right, because Fox bought it a few days later.”
The main character, Marvin Flute, will be voiced by actor Jon Hamm, who won an Emmy for “Mad Men.” Hamm will also be an executive producer on the series. The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Flute is “the greatest detective ever to catch a cannibal clown or correctly identify a mid-century modern armoire.” McClelland believes that there has never been a character like Flute, but Schlissel said, “Flute is a fresh combination of all those brooding detectives that we’ve come to know and love: Stabler from ‘Law & Order,’ Sipowicz from ‘NYPD Blue,’ Rust from ‘True Detective.’ So much darkness, so much trauma. Ripe for comedy.”
Their ties to LMU and SFTV are strong. “Without LMU, this simply would not have happened,” said McClelland. “The grad screenwriting program demolished our egos and rebuilt us as professional writers. We owe our careers to LMU and to the dynamite profs that have guided us – Karol Hoeffner, Mary Kuryla, Patty Meyer, Beth Serlin, Julie Sayres, Larry Levy, David Breckman, Steve Duncan, Gloria Calderón Kellett, and Mark Schwartz. It’s just that simple.”
Added Schlissel, “Cat and I have SFTV deep in our DNA by this point. We were both students in the grad screenwriting program, we met in a sitcom class (shout-out to Larry Levy!), and are now both screenwriting faculty – and loving it. SFTV is such a wonderful program, filled with amazing teachers and creative students, and we owe it a great deal of gratitude.”
“Grimsburg” marks the first pilot sale, pilot pickup and series order for McClelland and Schlissel, who will co-executive produce the series. “Grimsburg” is an in-house production of Fox Entertainment; the company’s Bento Box Entertainment will produce the series, which is expected to premiere in 2023.