Guess Who Died

Guess Who Died is an American comedy television pilot created by Norman Lear and Peter Tolan and starring Hector Elizondo, Holland Taylor, Beth Lacke, Adrian Martinez, and Christopher Lloyd. The pilot was directed by Adam Bernstein and written by Lear and Tolan, both of whom also executive produced alongside Brent Miller. Commissioned by NBC for the 2018–19 television season, the pilot was ultimately passed over and not picked up to series. Had the production been given a series order, it would have marked Lear's first original sitcom production in over twenty years.

Guess Who Died
Created by
Written by
  • Norman Lear
  • Peter Tolan
Directed byAdam Bernstein
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)Patricia Fass Palmer
Camera setupSingle-camera
Production company(s)
External links
Production website


Guess Who Died follows the residents of "Las Esperanzado Senior Community in Palm Springs. It centers on Murray, a retired music executive who is positive and upbeat with sparkling eyes and a keen, sharp and wonderful sense of humor. After the death of his beloved wife, he realizes he’s fallen in love with his sister-in-law, Patricia, a former American Airlines flight attendant, who can be a little too proper at times, but she’s sharp as a tack with a great sense of humor."[1]

Cast and characters


No.TitleDirected byWritten by
1"Pilot"[2]Adam BernsteinNorman Lear & Peter Tolan



Around 2010, Lear first conceived the idea for series, began to write a pilot script, and started shopping the show among various television networks. In the ensuing years, Lear struggled to find network executives interested in developing the project.[3] On October 31, 2015, Lear held a live table read of the show's pilot episode at the annual Austin Film Festival featuring Robert Walden and June Squibb.[4] While producing the 2017 remake of One Day at a Time with Sony Pictures Television, Lear was introduced to fellow television producer Peter Tolan by the studio. In early 2017, the duo began to actively develop the project together.[3]

On August 22, 2017, it was announced that the series had landed a pilot production commitment from NBC. The show is set to be executive produced by Lear, Tolan, and Brent Miller. Production companies involved include Act III Productions, The Cloudland Company and Sony Pictures Television.[3][5] On May 11, 2018, it was announced that NBC had passed on the pilot and would not be giving the production a series order. Soon after this announcement, the producers reportedly began to shop the series to other networks and streaming services with YouTube Red showing interest.[6]

On June 11, 2018, Amazon Studios CEO Jennifer Salke mentioned in multiple interviews that Lear had sent her the director's cut of the pilot episode for consideration of a series order for the production on Amazon Video. Salke had previously bought and developed the project during her tenure as NBC Entertainment president.[7][8] By the end of the month, Amazon was said to still be considering the series.[9] On August 2, 2018, it was reported that Amazon had passed on the pilot and declined to order it to series. Brent Miller, Act II Productions' head of production and development spoke of their future plans for the project, saying, "I'm not done pursuing this world. I think we need a show out there that can accurately represent people living and not 'living' as the stereotype. I came home from Palm Springs and told Norman that these people are living and they're not there to die. I'm thinking we might look at [Guess Who Died] as a film. It'd be really great."[10]


On January 17, 2018, it was reported that Hector Elizondo and Holland Taylor had been cast in the lead roles of Murray and Patricia, respectively.[1][11][12] On January 30, 2018, it was announced that Beth Lacke and Adrian Martinez had been cast as series regulars in the roles of Cybil and Lopez, respectively.[13] On February 6, 2018, it was reported that Christopher Lloyd had joined the main cast in the role of Mort.[14]


Principal photography for the pilot took place from February 27 to March 6, 2018 at the University Village Thousand Oaks senior living community in Thousand Oaks, California.[15]


  1. Andreeva, Nellie (January 18, 2018). "Hector Elizondo & Holland Taylor To Star In Norman Lear & Peter Tolan's 'Guess Who Died' NBC Comedy Pilot". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  2. "Guess Who Died". ACT III Productions. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  3. Andreeva, Nellie (August 22, 2017). "Norman Lear & Peter Tolan's 'Guess Who Died' Comedy Lands At NBC With Big Commitment". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  4. Rocca, Mo (January 10, 2016). "Norman Lear wants to know: Where are the old people on TV?". CBS News. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  5. Goldberg, Lesley (August 22, 2017). "Norman Lear's Senior Comedy 'Guess Who Died' Moving Forward at NBC". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  6. Andreeva, Nellie (May 11, 2018). "'Guess Who Died' Pilot Not Going Forward At NBC; Norman Lear & Peter Totan's Comedy May Find Another Home". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  7. Goldberg, Lesley (June 11, 2018). "Jennifer Salke Details Amazon Plans: Fix Culture, Empower Women, 'Lord of the Rings' by 2021". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
  8. Andreeva, Nellie (June 11, 2018). "Amazon Studios Boss On How 'The Expanse' Was Saved & Would Amazon Also Rescue 'Lucifer'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
  9. Goldberg, Lesley (June 29, 2018). "'L.A. Confidential': Efforts to Find CBS Pilot a New Home Fail". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
  10. Goldberg, Lesley (August 1, 2018). "Norman Lear to Go Obscure With New Sony TV Pact". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  11. Otterson, Joe (January 18, 2018). "Hector Elizondo, Holland Taylor Join NBC Comedy Pilot 'Guess Who Died'". Variety. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  12. Gans, Andrew (January 18, 2018). "Tony Nominee Holland Taylor Lands Leading Role in NBC Pilot Guess Who Died". Playbill. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  13. Andreeva, Nellie; Petski, Denise (January 30, 2018). "'Guess Who Died': Beth Lacke & Adrian Martinez Cast In NBC's Comedy Pilot". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  14. Andreeva, Nellie (February 6, 2018). "'Guess Who Died': Christopher Lloyd Cast In NBC Comedy Pilot". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  15. Regan, Tim (May 14, 2018). "TV Pilot Showcases California CCRC to Combat Aging Perceptions - Senior Housing News". Senior Housing News. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
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