Anthony Anderson to Star in ABC Comedy Pilot ‘Public Defenders,’ Liz Astrof Set as Showrunner With Randall Einhorn Directing

Anthony Anderson is set to star in the ABC comedy pilot “Public Defenders,” Variety has learned. In addition, Liz Astrof has joined the pilot as showrunner while Randall Einhorn has signed on to direct.

The single-camera pilot, which was originally picked up at ABC in January, hails from writer Eddie Quintana.

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The official logline states: “Up to their earholes in student loan debt, four inexperienced public defenders work tirelessly to keep their clients out of jail. Along the way, they have to rely on each other to navigate their first defendants, the absurd court system, and the copy machine that always jams.”

Anderson will star as Marshall, who is described as “always angry. Marshall is Catherine’s short fused boss. Unimpressed by her reluctance to take her clients to trial, the stern Marshall makes her shadow Efren, her cocky, trial-hungry office rival. Marshall has seen every kind of public defender come through his office, and now that he’s a deputy-in-charge, he sees it as his responsibility to transform his deputies into cutthroat defense attorneys. Marshall’s hard line is revealed to be tough love, as he’s deeply protective of them.”

His role in the pilot keeps Anderson in business with ABC, as he previously starred in the network’s critically-acclaimed comedy series “Black-ish.” That show ran for eight seasons and wrapped up its run in 2022. Anderson earned seven Emmy nominations for best actor in a comedy for his work on the show. He also executive produced “Black-ish” and executive produces the spinoff “Grown-ish” and the former spinoff “Mixed-ish.” Anderson also currently hosts ABC’s revival of “To Tell the Truth.” In film, Anderson is known for his roles in features such as “Hustle and Flow,” “The Departed,” and “Transformers.”

He is repped by UTA, Artists First, Goodman Genow, and The Initiative Group.

Astrof most recently created the Fox series “Pivoting.” Her past credits beyond that include “The Conners,” “The King of Queens,” and “Raising Hope.” Einhorn has previously directed for shows like “Abbott Elementary,” “The Kids Are Alright,” “Wilfred,” “Fargo,” “Parks and Recreation,” and many more.

Astrof is repped by CAA. Einhorn is repped by Odenkirk-Provissiero and CAA.

Quintana serves as writer and executive producer on “Public Defenders.” Anderson will executive produce in addition to starring. Astrof and Einhorn also executive produce along with McG, Mary Viola and Corey Marsh for Wonderland Sound and Vision as well as E. Brian Dobbins. 20th Television is the studio.

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