April 16, 2014 3:46pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
NBC Passes on David Koechner Variety Sketch Show (Exclusive)
NBC is narrowing down the field for a potential new variety show.
The network has passed on its variety sketch show starring Anchorman's David Koechner, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The project, which had received a pilot order, would have marked Koechner's return to his sketch comedy roots. He started his career on NBC's Saturday Night Live and also had a recurring role on the network's adaptation of The Office.
The untitled variety sketch show was created by Koechner, who would have starred in and executive produced the project alongside Lou Wallach and Brillstein Entertainment Parnters' Alex Murray and Tim Sarkes, via Wallach's deal with Universal Television's Alternative Studio.
The Koechner pilot was one of two in consideration at the network this season. NBC this week scheduled its Maya Rudolph variety special for a May 19 test run. The Maya Rudolph Show hails from SNL mastermind Lorne Michaels, who also exec produced NBC's two-season comedy Up All Night, in which Rudolph starred. That special will revisit the classic variety show format and feature a roster of A-list guest stars as well as a musical guest and house band. NBC also is readying a third potential sketch show, with Wallach attached to produce.
NBC has been looking to experiment with alternative forms of comedy outside of the sitcom. The network in recent years has struggled with scripted comedy, most recently failing to return a freshman half-hour series for a second year.
Last season, NBC's two top comedies among adults 18-49 were SNL and the Sean Hayes-produced unscripted game show Hollywood Game Night.
Thus far, NBC has only renewed comedy series Parks and Recreation for next season. Last year the network only returned the Amy Poehler comedy and Community. Its rookie class has struggled this season, with The Michael J. Fox Show, Sean Saves the World and Welcome to the Family all failing to move forward. The fate of freshman About a Boy, Growing Up Fisher, Undateable and Canadian acquisition Welcome to Sweden have yet to be determined.
Koechner, meanwhile, is a Second City alum who most recently starred in A+E Networks' comedy pilot Whitey. That did not move forward. The actor-comedian, who also co-starred in the Anchorman sequel, has had a talent deal with NBC since 2012.