3:57pm PT by Lacey Rose
Tone Bell Inks Talent, Script Deals at NBC (Exclusive)
NBC is betting even bigger on Tone Bell.
The network has signed the Bad Judge breakout to a talent holding deal, while sibling Universal Television has inked a blind script deal with him. The comedian will be eyed for potential pilots this broadcast season, and will focus his development efforts on creating a series for the studio, which he could potentially star in, too.
Bell got his break on NBC's Whitney, which he joined as RJ the bartender in the show's second season. The following year, he booked a role on Fox comedy pilot To My Future Assistant, while still continuing to tour as a stand-up. More recently, he starred opposite Kate Walsh on the short-lived NBC legal comedy.
Read more Bad Judge's Tone Bell Sells Comedy to FX
NBC execs have had an eye on Bell since 2011, when he won the network's Standup for Diversity Competition. At that time the Georgia-born comic was given a talent deal, which led to his role on Whitney. The latest deal comes at a time when the broadcast networks have been actively seeking out diverse talent, a trend that will no doubt continue given the success of diverse projects including Black-ish, How to Get Away with Murder and Fox's Empire.
Off screen, Bell has seen his career take off, too, with an untitled comedy selling to FX late last year. The project, created by Bell and comedian Mark Agee, takes a page from the diverse college admissions brochures and follows four guys from vastly different backgrounds as they clumsily try to figure out how to get by — and get along. Bell and Agee are set to co-write the script and executive produce the comedy alongside Brian Gatewood and Alex Tanaka as well as Black Box Management's Lowell Shapiro and Mike Dill. Black Box, who has repped Bell since 2011, packaged, sold and will produce the comedy.
Bell, who honed his comedic voice in Dallas comedy clubs, is repped by Black Box, Innovative Artists and Jackoway Tierman.