A Genealogue Exclusive [What's That?]In a move meant to bolster its lackluster comedy lineup, ABC has greenlighted a sitcom starring veteran actor Abe Vigoda as a dedicated genealogist, and Cloris Leachman as his shrewish sister bent on keeping the family secrets secret.
In the pilot episode of Uprooted, Vigoda's character discovers that their great-great-grandmother was not a "Cherokee princess" as his sister hoped, but rather a German prostitute with unusually dark complexion. In an uncredited cameo role, Marie Osmond appears as a Family History Center volunteer who helps Vigoda rewind a reel of microfilm during the closing credits.
"This show can't miss," says executive producer Jay Barnett. "People love genealogy almost as much as they love Abe Vigoda. It can't miss!"
TV critic Mandy Crommett is not so sure.
"The genealogy angle has been tried before in sitcoms, and it's always fallen flat. Remember the time on Seinfeld when Jerry, Elaine, and George spent the whole episode waiting for a tour at Ellis Island? Or the time on Happy Days when Fonzie taught Chachi the importance of family history by jumping his motorcycle over Grandma Nussbaum's grave? Of course you don't. They were instantly forgotten."
Barnett thinks Uprooted will prove the critics wrong.
"The time is ripe for genealogy-based television. Once Uprooted takes off, we'll have a dozen other projects ready to roll. In fact, we have a comedy based on Alex Haley's Roots already in production. It was skewing 'urban,' so we recast the Kunta Kinte part," Barnett confides. "With Clay Aiken as the lead, there's no way it can miss!"