ABC Finds Humor in Wall Street's Collapse

Two comedy pilots flip the recession to their advantage.

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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg sent a grim message earlier this year when he said that 46,000 financial workers might lose their jobs and that Wall Street's losses could total $60 billion to $70 billion by the second quarter of 2010. Adding insult to injury, brokers and bankers are increasingly fleeing the Big Apple and relocating their families and talent to areas such as Virginia, Chicago, and even Asia. This is no laughing matter, of course, but the ABC television network hopes that two new comedy pilots about Wall Street will get Americans to think otherwise.

One untitled pilot stars Kelsey Grammer, who plays a Wall Street millionaire toppled by the financial meltdown. He'll have to start caring for a family that he rarely spent time with during his high-powered career.

The other show is Canned, a project about a group of Gen-Xers fired from their glossy jobs at an investment bank. "While we're defining them as 'bankers' in the pilot, you experience them as that only in the very first scene, at the bank, where they get fired," Peter Traugott, an executive producer of Canned, told Advertising Age. "After that, it's really about young people who've been forced to take stock of their lives and who ask, 'Did I even like what I was doing? Is this what I want to do?' "

Canned was originally, well, canned; network execs thought that Americans didn't want to be face to face with the deepening recession. But when coproducer Kevin Etten gave it a "post-boom Friends" angle, execs ended up ordering the pilot.

Both pilots will begin shooting in April. Oh, the irony if either one or both get dropped.