TV sitcom Extended Family inspired by real-life relationship of Celtics owner, wife and her ex
BOSTON, United States (AP) — When Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck felt like his life could be the premise for a television sitcom, he knew just where to turn: His friend Tom Werner, a Red Sox owner and TV veteran who was behind megahits like The Cosby Show, Roseanne, and That ’70s Show.
The result is Extended Family, which premieres on NBC today (8 pm EST), starring Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men), Donald Faison (Scrubs), and Abigail Spencer (Grey’s Anatomy, Suits) in a love triangle inspired by the real-life dynamic that developed between Grousbeck, his new wife and her ex-husband — a lifelong Celtics fan.
“He looked at her like: ‘There’s a million guys in New England you could be dating,'” said Werner, who advised the three on developing the show and joined them as an executive producer. “What am I going to tell my friends?”
The ensuing hijinks play off the decision by Emilia Fazzalari and George Geyer to follow their divorce with an arrangement called nesting: Instead of making the children bounce around during custody swaps, the kids stay in the family apartment and the parents move in and out.
“The nest is someplace where Julia and I have tried to give our kids the false impression that nothing has changed,” Jim Kearney (Cryer) says in the pilot, which revolves around a true story in which Geyer was left in charge of his daughter’s goldfish “Googles” while she was at summer camp. The fish dies, they decide to replace it with a look-alike, and then wackiness ensues.
Fazzalari and Geyer said the unusually amicable divorce was an attempt to minimise the disruption for their two children.
In the pilot, Jim hits Celtics owner Trey Turner (Faison) up for tickets and his ex-wife Julia Mariano (Spencer) says: “Looks like we both met the man of our dreams.” But in real life there were more mixed emotions for Geyer, who grew up outside of Boston, went to Boston College and raised his kids as Boston sports fans while living in New York.
The pilot was shot during the 2022 NBA Finals, when Grousbeck and Fazzalari happened to be spending some time in California to watch the Celtics play (and ultimately lose to) the Golden State Warriors.
“It was amazing for the three of us to sit there and look at three people playing versions of us, loose versions of us,” Grousbeck said. “It’s like you’ve suddenly gone into the television. I mean, it’s just a crazy feeling.”