July 01, 2013 9:57am PT by Lesley Goldberg
NBC Prepping New Sketch Comedy Series (Exclusive)
NBC is looking for a few good sketch and improv comedians.
The network is prepping an untitled sketch comedy project with former Comedy Central senior vp original programming Lou Wallach attached to executive produce, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.
While it's still early in the development process, the network is slated to begin a multicity search for both new and veteran writer-performers on the stand-up, improv and sketch comedy circuits with the hopes of creating one flagship series.
The concept, sources say, would be to build a franchise similar to what Saturday Night Live has become for the network, helping to propel its cast to star in new programming for the network. The Lorne Michaels-produced late-night sketch series has been a fertile ground for developing stars for NBC, including Jimmy Fallon (Late Night), Tina Fey (30 Rock), Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation), Maya Rudolph (Up All Night) and Seth Meyers (who will replace Fallon at Late Night), among others.
Wallach will oversee the project under his recently inked overall deal with Universal Television's Alternative Studio. The untitled effort comes as NBC is 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. For its part, NBC is only bringing back two comedies -- Poehler's Parks and Recreation and Community, which earned an eleventh-hour fifth season pickup and won't likely premiere until midseason.
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NBC has not yet settled on a premise for the series, instead opting to search for writers/performers/comedians to build the show around. However, a number of format ideas have been floated early under Wallach's oversight. While the entry would not be live like Saturday Night Live, the goal would be to have a similar concept to Fox's In Living Color and The Carol Burnett Show, save for the former's studio component. (Worth noting: Fox recently scrapped plans for an In Living Color reboot.)
During his stay at Comedy Central, executive-turned-producer Wallach helped oversee Chappelle's Show, The Colbert Report, Crank Yankers and more.
The casting process is being described as in line with both Saturday Night Live and NBC's Last Comic Standing -- scouring clubs, the Upright Citizens Brigade, Second City and The Improv. Wallach will oversee the talent search -- which will include stops in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Montreal and Toronto -- for NBC's president of alternative programming and late night, Paul Telegdy.