That Lawrence is spread thin is just fine with "Ground Floor" show runner Jeff Astrof.

"Bill will never say, 'Do it this way,' because he doesn't have enough time, and thankfully some of his other shows are really demanding," says Astrof with a wry smile. "That never makes me sad when one of his other shows has trouble."

The idea for "Ground Floor" has been kicking around in Lawrence's head for quite some time. His recently formed production company, Doozer, is producing the show in collaboration with Warner Bros. Television. (The company's name is a play on Lawrence's full name, William Van Duzer Lawrence IV. His great-great grandfather of the same name founded Sarah Lawrence College.)

PHOTOS: Prime-time couples

The show takes place in a high-rise office building in San Francisco. When an unlikely love affair blossoms between a banker named Brody (Skylar Astin) and a maintenance supervisor named Jennifer (Briga Heelan), Brody's boss, Mansfield (John C. McGinley), does his best to dissuade his young protégé from falling in love.

It's an "Upstairs, Downstairs"-style romance that both Astrof and Lawrence find particularly compelling. The two met while working as writers on "Friends." Lawrence was in his 20s at the time and got fired during the first year.

"I was a kid, I misbehaved a bit," he says by way of explanation, putting his feet up on a coffee table and folding his arms behind his head.

He apparently didn't misbehave enough to alienate "Friends" co-creator David Crane, who introduced Lawrence to "Family Ties" creator Gary David Goldberg. Lawrence credits Goldberg with putting him through "show runners camp." Before Lawrence was 30, the pair had co-created "Spin City" for Michael J. Fox.

"He's the Norman Lear of his generation and he's great at this discipline," says McGinley, who played Dr. Perry Cox for nine years on "Scrubs" and is now on "Ground Floor." "He's fantastic at single-cam, which was 'Scrubs,' but he's a genius at multi-cam."

jessica.gelt@latimes.com