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'The Neighbors,' a new ABC series about a family who moves into a neighborhood inhabited by quirky aliens, premieres on September 26 at 9:30 p.m. ET. The series will air on Wednesdays from 8:30 until 9 p.m. ET after October 3, 2012.
The show stars Jami Gertz, formerly of the sitcom 'Still Standing,' and Lenny Venito as human parents of two children, while Simon Templeman and Toks Olagundoye play their neighbors, an alien couple who also have a child.
'The Neighbors' will see the newcomers, who are disguised in human form, learning first-hand about ordinary things people do daily that they are unaccustomed to - kissing, shopping at malls and going to work.
'It's got to have heart, more than anything it's gotta have heart,' Executive producer Aaron Kaplan told OnTheRedCarpet.com and other outlets at ABC's Television Critics Association panel on July 27, 2012. 'An animated sitcom can do gag after gag after gag. We can't do that. we have to ground it in the human stories, in the heart. it's gotta be grounded with the family.'
The aliens' names may sound familiar as well. That is because they are the names of actual human athletes. Templeman plays NBA player Larry Bird, while Olagundoye, his wife, portrays Jackie Joyner-Kersee, a retired Olympic gold medal-winning athlete who competed in the women's heptathlon and long jump in the 1980s and 1990s.
Kaplan said that showrunners had to obtain permission to use the athletes' names and that many were changed at the last minute. Templeman's character, for example, was originally named Wilt Chamberlain, an NBA player who died in 1999.
Kaplan said many living atheletes whose names are used on the show are 'really actually responding to it and they actually think it's cool to have an alien named after them.'
( Photo / ABC / Craig Sjodin)