New TV Project
Anthony Aibel plays Bryan Willing, a split personality news reporter in Willing & Aibel, a new TV comedy in which he is also co-creator. The show also stars Emmy, Golden Globe and Tony Award winner Judd Hirsch. Emmy Award-winning journalist and former CNN anchor Tony Harris is a consultant for the show. The sizzle reel was filmed and completed just before the shut-down, and it will soon be pitched to networks and streaming companies, along with the Series Bible and two pilot script options!
The pilot episode is designed to thrust Bryan - a cocky, ultra-conservative commentator - into the ring of a liberal, local, newsroom. We'd like the audience to think this is yet another clever series bashing conservative politics. But as the season goes on, our hope is to show that conservatives and liberals have a lot more that connects them than that which separates.
Willing & Aibel is first and foremost a character-driven comedy - our main goal is to entertain, but we have the opportunity to do more than that; this is a chance to shine a light on the good and bad of both sides of the aisle and get people really thinking.
The title of the show is a play on words, referring to the two main characters' last names. Willing, a staunch Republican, and Aibel, a die-hard Democrat. What's ironic, is that neither are willing nor able to listen to each other. It's just the opposite. They're unwilling and dysfunctional, and not about to let the other get the upper hand. It's a perpetual Thanksgiving dinner of political disagreement with these two.
The cast and crew for the March 2nd sizzle reel shoot, just days before the COVID-19 shut-down. Judd Hirsch had flown in from LA after reading the script.
Each character is deeply human, flawed and opinionated. They make mistakes, but from time to time they surprise us with their growth and insight into the human condition. There will be moments where the liberal characters see the value of Bryan's conservative viewpoints, and vice versa - the way we should all probably view politics - not an us vs. them, but taking the good that both sides have to offer. The truth is son often somewhere in the middle.
The show follows popular, yet controversial conservative TV commentator, BRYAN WILLING. Bryan is fired from ROX NEWS and has to take a job working at a fledgling local news station, New York's NEWS 7. His new manager is the sharp, altruistic, liberal, SOPHIA AIBEL. The News Director who gives Willing a second chance is SEYMORE LIEBOWITZ (played by Emmy and Golden Globe Award Winner- Judd Hirsch)
The tone is a lot like "The Office" and "Parks and Recreation", but set in a local news station where the main character is the new guy - Bryan Willing - a fish out of water, desparate to win back his prominence in TV news.
Why this show? Why now?
To put it simply, politics in America has turned into a bit of a shit show, and we want to get in on the action.
Partisan divide in this country has never been wider. We've got a congress that can't compromise, a delusional narcissist in the White House, and all sorts of extreme-leaning news outlets to cover it. Ten minutes on CNN is enough to convince anyone that all Republicans are mindless, holier-than-thou capitalists. And ten minutes on FOX, you'd swear all Democrats are irresponsible "so-called intellectuals" who are running our country into the ground with their big government/socialistic agendas.
This show focuses on the craziness of the situation our country finds itself in where a full 38% of Americans now identify as "Independent".
Anthony Aibel graduated with honors from Juilliard (he simultaneously pursued writing at Columbia) and he studied acting & directing for several years with Tony-nominated director/acting teacher Terry Schreiber, who taught Edward Norton (Bird Man/Fight Club). Aibel later regularly subbed on Broadway, wrote articles published in the New York Times and others, and he was musical director for Area 31, which received a Grammy Award Nomination. He then began starring in several short films that he wrote and directed, as well as acting in plays throughout New York. His story about the news and the current political climate in America—along with the writing of his co-creator Cameron Sawyer—came to the attention of Judd Hirsch (Taxi, Meet the Goldbergs, Dear John, George & Leo), and thus came the birth of Willing & Aibel.