Comic-Con: 'People of Earth' Exec Producers Reveal Surprising Story Behind TBS Comedy's Title

Star Wyatt Cenac and co-executive producer David Jenkins also appeared to preview the upcoming alien abduction comedy.
TBS
'People of Earth'

Conan O'Brien will be pulling double duty beginning this fall on TBS when the late-night host unveils his new scripted half-hour comedy People of Earth.

Executive produced by O'Brien and Greg Daniels (The Office), People of Earth centers on a skeptical journalist, Ozzie Graham (Daily Show alum Wyatt Cenac), who investigates a support group for those who have allegedly had alien encounters. The more he examines their bizarre claims, the more he realizes a sliver of truth in their stories and possibly even signs that indicate he also was abducted by aliens. Ozzie soon becomes part of the eccentric group as he struggles with the idea of knowing that life could exist beyond Earth.

"I read it and I said, 'This is my favorite script that I've read in memory,'" O'Brien recalled Friday at a San Diego Comic-Con panel previewing the series.

David Jenkins penned the script and, much like Ozzie's character, thought of the idea after reading about a similar support group for people who believe they've been abducted. "I was kind of was, like, I think I have a lot in common with these people and I thought it would make a good show."

O'Brien agreed, as did his former writing partner, Daniels, who came on board to exec produce and direct the pilot for the project, then called The Group. "I was so impressed with the world that David created and all the possibilities," said Daniels.

However, the team hit one snag in development. "We couldn’t get The Group as a title," Jenkins recalled. With just three days to find something new, executive producer David Kissinger thought of the name People of Earth.

"I Googled it and the first thing that comes up is your letter after leaving NBC," Jenkins said in reference to O'Brien's lengthy statement about his decision to leave NBC when the network moved his Tonight Show predecessor Jay Leno back to 11:35 p.m. in 2010. The letter was famously addressed to "People of Earth."

"It’s a very optimistic letter and there's something cool about what you do because you're very cool and earnest when you're not being a megalomaniac person," Jenkins said in jest about O'Brien. "I thought that was a good sign."

O'Brien called the Google result a "total mix-up." While he didn't address the NBC letter directly, O'Brien took the time to praise TBS, his current network home of more than six years.

"You bet I enjoy working for TBS," he deadpanned. "All joking aside, it has been a dream come true. … They let us have totally creative freedom. It’s the best working experience I've had in my life."

People of Earth debuts later this year on TBS.

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