Essence Atkins, Tetona Jackson Join Wayans Father/Son Comedy Pilot at CBS, Andy Ackerman to Direct

Essence Atkins and Tetona Jackson have signed on to star in the untitled CBS comedy pilot starring Damon Wayans and Damon Wayans Jr., Variety has learned. In addition, Andy Ackerman has signed on to direct the pilot.

The multi-cam pilot was first announced at CBS in February. Per the official logline, “Legendary talk radio host and happily divorced ‘Poppa’ (Wayans) has his point of view challenged at work when a new female co-host (Atkins) is hired, and at home where he finds himself still parenting his adult son (Wayans Jr.), a brilliant dreamer who is trying to pursue his passion while being a responsible father and husband.”

Atkins character is named Dr. Ivy Reed. She is further described as “intelligent, savvy, and bold” and hosts the radio show “Ask Dr. Reed,” where she gives “helpful advice to listeners with a modern approach on life” before she is brought in as Poppa’s new co-host.

Jackson will play Nina, Junior’s wife who is said to be “loving, real and detail oriented…She is his biggest supporter, but his biggest motivator as well. She doesn’t want Junior to give up his dream, but hopes he can focus more on work in the meantime – she’s already raising two kids and can’t have him acting like a third. Even with all the distractions and family drama, Nina and Junior always make a great team.”

The role brings Atkins back into business with the Wayans family on broadcast TV, as she previously starred in the Marlon Wayans comedy series “Marlon” at NBC. Atkins currently appears in the BET+ series “First Wives Club” as well as the ABC drama “The Company You Keep.” Her other notable TV roles include “Are We There Yet?” as well as “Ambitions,” “Half & Half” and “Smart Guy.” She made her directorial debut in 2020 with the TVOne film “Christmas Dilemma.”

She is repped by Buchwald and Kathy McComb Management

Jackson most recently appeared in The CW series “Dynasty” and has a recurring role in the ABC comedy “Home Economics.” She also previously led the BET series “Boomerang” and starred in Hulu’s “All Night.” Her other roles include “Happyland,” “Maximum Ride,” and “Severed Road.”

She is repped by BRS-Gage and The Priluck Company

Kevin Hench and Wayans Jr. are co-writing and executive producing the pilot, with Wayans also executive producing in addition to starring. Ackerman will executive produce and direct. CBS Studios will produce.

This is one of just two comedy pilots CBS has ordered this season. The other is based on the comic strip “JumpStart,” with Terry Crews set to lead that project. On the drama side, CBS has ordered an updated version of “Matlock” starring Kathy Bates and a “Good Wife” spinoff starring Carrie Preston.

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