As cable and broadcast networks begin unveiling their upcoming new series, potential pilots and scripts in development for the fall 2010/spring 2011 season, it's good to sometimes take a step back to get a look at the bigger picture before getting too excited about any one development deal that may never see any TV airtime.
Remember, for instance, when Speed Freaks looked like an exciting madcap Comedy Central series about two guys on the run from a meth dealer? Well, instead we got an exciting drama about meth on another cable network (AMC's Breaking Bad), while A.D. Miles became the head writer for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and has helped give Fallon's chat show its own stamp on late-night TV, and Zach Galifianakis has become an in-demand movie star. So everything worked out OK two years ago.
Going into the coming year, what do I see when I look at Comedy Central's development slate?
First off, I see that when Kent Alterman says "the focus through our development process is to find performers, writers, directors and producers that project a strong, unique comedic voice, and then help them actualize their vision in the most unfiltered manner possible," what that means in reality is that Comedy Central very much likes to sign up and/or acquire raw stand-up product from talent in double doses, not only getting a CD and/or DVD special out of them, but then also a pilot for a potential series.
The network is producing new specials with Patrice Oneal, Nick Kroll and Reggie Watts, and also has pilots and script deals with them. The network has acquired world premiere TV rights to specials from Bill Burr, Kevin Hart and Whitney Cummings, and also has pilot and script deals with them.
Comedy Central also is producing one-hour specials for its own Daniel Tosh, as well as Denis Leary, Norm Macdonald, Bo Burnham and others, while acquiring rights to hours from Lisa Lampanelli and Lewis Black.
We have premiere dates for Futurama (June 24), Russell Simmons Presents: Stand-Up at the El Rey hosted by JB Smoove (July 11), Big Lake (August) and Nick Swardson's Pretend Time (October), The Onion Sports Network (January 2010) and Workaholics (February 2011).
And when you look at the new pilots, signs point toward the Internet as a growing source for pilot pitches. Comedy Central already used its Atom.com stable of webseries for the likes of Secret Girlfriend and Ugly Americans. Funny or Die is producing the newsmagazine parody Jon Benjamin has a Van, and already produced the short that will become Rich Dicks (with Jon Daly and Nick Kroll), the UCB is putting together a series of short sketch videos in This Show Will Get You High, and Patrice Oneal is following up his online series of 2007 with Patrice Oneal's Guide to White People. There's also a pilot based on Highdeas. There are blended reality/sketch/mock projects featuring Bert Kreischer, Brian Posehn, and Andre Hyland, respectively. And I'm very curious to see how Bill Burr and Kevin Hart try to update the "Odd Couple" concept in their untitled project.
Waverly Films has gotten the go-ahead for five online episodes on Atom.com of "The Fuzz," a cop show that has humans and puppets living together in the real world, with potential to become a TV series.
The full list of script/paper deals appears after the jump…
You know those people who cut you off in traffic, use their cell phone in the movie theater, and don't hold the door open for old ladies? They're a**holes, and it's about time we find out what makes them tick. "A**holes" is a scripted half-hour comedy series that tells the story of the two biggest assholes in the entire world‚Ä¶Jeff and Geoff. These two twenty-something roommates spend their days scamming on girls, bilking Alzheimer's patients out of money, and generally being the opposite of model citizens. You've never laughed harder at watching people be so bad. "A**holes" is written and created by Steve Koren ("Saturday Night Live," "Seinfeld") and Nick Malis ("Tosh.0," "Mind of Mencia").
A police procedural cop series set in a corrupt city where humans and puppets co-exist. Viewers follow Herbie, the police force's first puppet detective, valiantly trying to improve his detective skills without becoming disillusioned and hardened, and his human man-child partner Sanchez as they unravel high-profile cases that touch upon such hot-button issues as jellybean smuggling, the anti-human movement, and puppet sex-crimes. Dead bodies, compromised forensics and shoot-outs are par for the course in the visually exciting, seam-splittingly hilarious and gritty puppet world of "The Fuzz." Created and written by Waverly Films (Chris Ford, Duncan Skiles and Jon Watts) and executive produced by Dave Becky, Tom Lasally, and Greg Walter, the series has also been greenlit for five Webisodes to air on COMEDY CENTRAL's sister network, Atom.com, later this year. Executive produced by Dave Becky, Tom Lassally, Greg Walter and 3Arts Entertainment.
"Intercourse with Whitney Cummings"
From brash young comedienne Whitney Cummings ("Made of Honor," COMEDY CENTRAL Roasts), "Intercourse with Whitney Cummings" is a half-hour scripted narrative comedy that follows Cumming's adventures in dating and sex. Joining Whitney each week on her adventures will be her single, guy friend Neal, her married couple friends Dick and Jane, and her porn star neighbor Starla whose advice normally does more harm than good. With material taken from her stand-up act, Cumming's unique voice and brutally honest point of view of the dating landscape and relationships in general promises to make "Intercourse" a twisted "Sex and the City" for the new decade.
A half-hour animated show about JC (Jesus Christ) wanting to escape his father's enormous shadow and to live life in NYC as a regular guy. A lot has changed in 2000 years and he is the ultimate fish out of water. Meanwhile his all-powerful yet apathetic father would rather be playing video games than listening to JC recount his life in the city. JC is a playful take on religion and society with a sprinkle of dumb. Executive produced by Reveille ("The Office"), Henrik Basin, Brian Boyle ("American Dad"), Jonathan Sjoberg and Andreas Ohman.
"The Jim Jeffries Show"
From the twisted yet completely relatable mind of Australian stand up comedian Jim Jeffries, this is a half-hour narrative about Jim's new life in the US. In the pilot episode Jim's best friend Damon is getting married to a religious woman who hates him and declares that Jim must go to confession in order to be the best man. This is a big problem since Jim is an atheist. Meanwhile his new hot roommate Carly goes missing and Jim thinks he will be blamed. Executive Produced by Jim Jeffries, Chris Case ("Reba"), Mindy Schulteis and Michael Hanel.
In the vein of classic Saturday morning superhero cartoons, like "G.I. Joe" and "Jonny Quest," the Joe Squad is the most elite fighting squad hell-bent on saving the world. Led by sex-obsessed Captain Falcon, the team consists of Auburn, the stunning, red-headed sexy-librarian-type, Berserker, the heavyset mustached goof, Big Jersey, the chiseled overly-tanned douchebag, Butchley, the freakishly Schwarzeneggerian female, Brick House, the insanely jacked African-American Muslim, Dutch, the clean-cut All-American good guy, and Lone Wolf, the masked and mysterious mute ninja. When these guys are not trying to save the world, they're getting in each other's way and on each other's nerves. Fortunately for Joe Squad, their nemesis Master Snake and his team of Rattlers are just as inept. This animated action-comedy comes from writer Blake McCormick ("King of the Hill") and executive producer Marty Adelstein ("Made of Honor").
Eric Slovin and Leo Allen ("Saturday Night Live," "Important Things with Demetri Martin") bring their hilarious vision of life on a space station to the airwaves. It's awkward office politics as usual in Deep Space, with a twist ‚Äì the whole thing might just be a social experiment funded by an eccentric zillionaire with a love for all things astral. Executive produced by American Work, Inc.
"Midnight Drop Box"
From Golden Globe¬Æ and Emmy¬Æ Award-winning writer Rob Schrab (‚ÄúThe Sarah Silverman Program‚Äù) and executive producer Erin O‚ÄôMalley (‚ÄúCurb Your Enthusiasm‚Äù) this comedic twist on ‚ÄúTales from the Crypt‚Äù is a stoner-horror anthology that spins the genre on its ear with aggressively odd stories featuring comedy guest stars. Funny but not spoofy, each tale is bookended by "The Hoster," who introduces each episode from his haunted video store in an abandoned mini-mall.
From veteran comedy writer Les Firestein (‚ÄúThe Drew Carey Show‚Äù, ‚ÄúIn Living Color‚Äù), ‚ÄúNocturnal Mission‚Äù is an out-of-this-world comedy that stars Chris D‚ÄôElia (‚ÄúMonk‚Äù, ‚ÄúBoston Legal‚Äù), who has been sent to Earth to save the planet. Without realizing there is a difference between someone‚Äôs on-line persona and who they really are, the alien brain trust has identified super-nerd Moshe Kasher (‚ÄúChelsea Lately‚Äù, ‚ÄúLive at Gotham‚Äù), to impregnate as many women as possible. This live-action show features two of the young, emerging stars in the world of comedy. Written and executive produced by Les Firestein and 3Arts Entertainment.
"Supermax" is animated series where the well-known inmates (Robert Hanssen, Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, Ted Kaczinski, Omar Abdel-Rahman, Richard Reid, John Walker-Lindh) of a real super maximum security prison in Colorado learn to live and love. From Emmy¬Æ Award-winning comedy writer Lew Morton("Undeclared," "Newsradio," "Futurama"), comedy gets a life sentence in this "arresting" comedy, where the only crime is not to laugh.
Untitled Broken Lizard Minor League Umpires Project
From the minds of Broken Lizard, (‚ÄúSuper Troopers‚Äù, ‚ÄúBeer Fest‚Äù) comes a series about four minor-league umpires as they travel from game to game in coastal California with dreams of making it to the major leagues. Written by Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Erik Stolhankse, Paul Soter and executive produced by 3Arts Entertainment.
Untitled Reggie Watts Project
Multi-talented musician/comedian and indescribable stage phenomenon Reggie Watts, currently opening for Conan O'Brien on his nationwide tour, joins forces with COMEDY CENTRAL to bring his unique voice to television. Executive produced by James Biederman ("Michael and Michael Have Issues," "Whitest Kids U Know").
Based on the popular movie of the same name, ‚ÄúWaiting‚Ä¶‚Äù follows the young and not so young employees at Shenaniganz restaurant as they gossip, make fun of customers, and avert boredom and adulthood with their antics. Each of the employees projects their own issues into the restaurant as they grapple with sex, booze, and whether they are temporary or permanent fixtures in the restaurant world. Written by Rob McKittrick (who also wrote and directed the film) and executive produced by McKittrick, Thomas Augsberger and Jeff Balis.