Jesus show on Comedy Central slate

9:00 PM PST 05/05/2010 by James Hibberd, AP

22 projects also include sex-chat talker, 'Odd Couple' update

Comedy Central is set to unveil an eclectic development slate that tackles sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll and religion.

The network has 22 projects in the pipeline ranging from script deals to pilots, with the usual formats of animated shows, sketch comedy and talk shows represented.

Standout ideas include a live sex-chat talk show, a program based on a Funny or Die Web short, an update of "The Odd Couple" and an animated series about Jesus Christ.

That last item could raise eyebrows coming on the heels of the network's recent censorship of "South Park" for attempting to depict the Prophet Muhammad. The show in development, "JC," is a half-hour about Christ wanting to escape the shadow of his "powerful but apathetic father" and live a regular life in New York.

"In general, comedy in its purest form always makes some people uncomfortable," said Comedy Central head of original programming Kent Alterman, who returned to the network in January after a stint at New Line.

Alterman is inheriting much of the slate and joked that he plans to take credit for shows that work and disavow any flops.

"For me, the guiding principle is finding the strongest comedy voices," he said.

From the list of shows at the pilot stage, Comedy Central has "Highdeas," in which a comedian explores mind-blowing questions that can only be posed by stoners, with concepts including "white chocolate milk" and "hamster-sized rhinos." That's from Embassy Row.

With a title that sounds like a companion piece, "This Show Will Get You High" is a sketch comedy show featuring the next wave of performers from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. In between sketches, the show created by Matt Besser and Eric Zicklin will have the ensemble performing around the U.S.

Another sketch show, "Jon Benjamin Has a Van," has the actor-comedian ("Archer") putting a twist on the investigative newsmagazine. It's produced by Benjamin, Andrew Steele and Funny or Die.

"Live Sex Show" updates Dr. Ruth with hosts Bert Kreischer and Layla Kayleigh taking a comedic look at all things sex. Jesse Ignatovic is the exec producer.

Based on a Funny or Die short, "Rich Dicks" stars Nick Kroll and Jon Daly as obnoxiously wealthy party-mongers in Los Angeles. The show is exec produced by Jon Krisel, Kroll and Daly.

"Steel Panther" is a loosely scripted docu-reality show following the band Steel Panther, which parodies '80s hair metal acts. It was created by Brian Posehn and Jeff Tremaine.

Finally, stand-up comics Kevin Hart and Bill Burr have a half-hour untitled scripted series that's billed as a modern-day take on "Odd Couple." The show is produced by Bruce McCulloch and 3Arts.

Of the network's projects at the script stage, highlights include "Supermax" (an animated prison series featuring famous-name inmates), "The Fuzz" (a police procedural that mixes humans and puppets) and "Joe Squad" (a spoof of classic Saturday morning superhero cartoons).

The network also set premiere dates -- or, at least, premiere months -- for several shows, including the return of "Futurama" (June 24), sketch-comedy show "Nick Swardson's Pretend Time" (October) and "The Onion Sports Network" (January).
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