May 24, 2004 12:00 PM

One of the most ambitious series that will premiere this fall is NBC’s Father of the Pride, a CGI-animated comedy from the makers of Shrek about a family of lions who star in Siegfried & Roy’s Las Vegas revue. Here’s a quick scouting report.

THE BACKSTORY Dream Works SKG cofounder Jeffrey Katzenberg got the idea for the series after attending one of Siegfried & Roy’s shows. “I was day-dreaming and started thinking, ‘What must it be like to live the lives of these animals that perform and live at the Mirage?'” he says. “It’s an amazing world they’ve built.”

THE PREMISE The series revolves around Larry (voiced by John Goodman), a down-to-earth lion living with his wife, Kate (Cheryl Hines), their two kids and Kate’s father, Sarmoti (Carl Reiner), a veteran performer with a mane toupee and a strong dislike for his son-in-law. Guest voices will include Lisa Kudrow, Danny DeVito and Eddie Murphy as Shrek‘s donkey. Siegfried and Roy, who are co-executive producers on the project, appear as themselves. “When they saw their characters onscreen, they cracked up,” says Katzenberg. Adds co-creator Jonathan Graff: “They’re relentlessly positive characters. They’re kind of like super-heroes for us.”

THE DRAMA BEHIND THE SCENES Katzenberg says he believes the show, which was put into a holding pattern when Roy was mauled by one of his tigers last October, has actually helped the lion tamer with his recovery. “For Roy, who was going through physical rehab,” says Katzenberg, “the show made him very, very focused and very ambitious. This is a way for [Siegfried and Roy] to carry on.”

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