Local News

Raised by Wolves: Davis resident and Hollywood dad inspire new show

By From page A1 | January 02, 2014

matt dearborn2W

Matt Dearborn, a TV producer and showrunner, has enlisted the services of actor/director Fred Savage to develop a show about his life raising his young daughter in the 1980s in Los Angeles. Titled "Raised by Wolves," it could be in line for a spot on CBS' national television lineup next season. Courtesy photo

Davis resident Emilie Hamilton used to have quite the cheering section when playing basketball as a youngster.

Among those gathered on the sidelines was George Clooney — yes, that George Clooney — rooting for her up and down the floor.

A friend of Hamilton’s father Matt Dearborn, who was an up-and-coming producer in the TV industry in the 1980s, Clooney was there specifically for her.

But while it’s not every day that someone can claim to be acquainted with such famous folk — and in some cases know them quite well, really — that was just what life was like those days for a 7-year-old girl growing up in Los Angeles. With a single dad. And his burgeoning career in show business.

Oh, and the three other young male 20-somethings, each trying to make it in the biz as well, who lived with them.

“It was a risky way to raise a kid, but it was amazing,” Hamilton said, looking back. “And I feel so blessed to be able to have had those experiences.

“I just thought it was fun. I moved from living with my mom (in Davis) … to having this much more elaborate life.”

Soon, people around the country might be transported into that wild world.

The unique upbringing and the father-daughter relationship was so fascinating that Dearborn, who has created successful shows like Disney’s “Even Stevens” and “Zeke and Luther,” has developed a show based on that special time in the Dearborn family’s lives, and CBS bought the idea in September.

The final script for the pilot episode of “Raised by Wolves” is being crafted and refined and will be shot early this year. If it is picked from about a dozen shows jousting for a CBS green light, by sometime next year, it could be a nationally televised show.

“My whole life (my dad’s) been a writer,” said Hamilton, who’s now raising a family of her own in Davis. “He’s always kind of used my life for story ideas and character ideas, but this is the first time it’s blatantly about him and me and our dad-daughter situation that we lived. And so that’s neat.”

Perhaps improving the show’s chances of success, Dearborn has enlisted the services of Fred Savage, the actor-turned heavy-hitting TV director who’s most known for his time on the show “The Wonder Years.”

Savage, who’s worked recently on high-profile comedies like “Modern Family” and “2 Broke Girls,” believes Dearborn’s show has a great shot to make it to primetime.

“I loved what a personal story it was,” Savage said. “I’m always really interested in stories of identity, people kind of reconciling who they are and who they’ve become with who they thought they would be.

“And I think Matt’s story about raising his daughter in his 20s, when he was kind of a single bachelor living in Los Angeles, really fits that mold, and it’s a really unique take on the unexpected parent story.”

If the pilot is picked up, people might then get a glimpse of what life actually was like for the father-daughter pair.

Stories like Emilie running off to school without a lunch because Dearborn, admittedly, was never a morning person, but then Hollywood Dad later sending someone from a set or a shoot to deliver food to the school in the middle of the day.

Or when Matt LeBlanc, best known for his role as Joey on the show “Friends,” used to baby-sit Emilie before his career blew up, where LeBlanc would play hide-and-seek with Dearborn’s daughter for $8 an hour. Dearborn gave LeBlanc one of his first roles, and helped Savage land one of his first directing jobs.

Truth is, Hamilton, now 33, and Dearborn, now a successful TV writer and producer several times over, can point to many more quirks and anecdotes that happened during their life together in the ’80s in Hollywood.

Living in a fancy house, sharing bathrooms with actors and writers and stuntmen, all of whom essentially took care of Emilie together, the two of them can tell countless stories about that special time in their lives.

“(It was) kind of a special dynamic she brought to my universe down here because everybody took to her,” said Dearborn, who was in his late 20s then. “Everybody was pitching in.”

But as unconventional that household may have been, both dad and daughter say they’re better off for it.

Each look upon their time together back then fondly.

“Even though it was crazy, there was never a question in my mind that he didn’t love me more than anything in the whole world,” Hamilton said. “He would do anything for me. I knew that I was super-secure the whole time even though it was kind of a rollercoaster.”

Added Dearborn: “Fortunately, had I not had Emilie, I don’t know if I would have wound up where I wound up: happier and in a good place in my life.”

— Reach Tom Sakash at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash

Tom Sakash

Tom Sakash covers the city beat for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected], (530) 747-8057 or @TomSakash.
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