JFL, Muse high on new partnership

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The Just for Laughs comedy festival and Canadian producer Muse Entertainment on Monday jumped into the scripted TV and movie comedy business together.

The Montreal-based producing partnership, called Just for Laughs Muse Comedy Prods., will kick off with "O'Cannabis," a feature comedy set in an imagined Canada where marijuana is legal and hookahs compete with hockey for the attention of Canadians.

Montreal-based Muse, a veteran drama producer, produced the mockumentary "The Tournament" for Just for Laughs and series creator Howard Busgang. The hockey-themed show aired for two seasons on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. in Canada and OLN in the U.S.

Thomas Schlamme ("Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip") is developing the series format for Warner Bros. Television, while Sue Vertue ("Men Behaving Badly") is doing the same for the BBC in the U.K.

Just for Laughs COO Bruce Hills said it makes sense for his festival — a veteran producer of live and variety TV programming — to cement its partnership with Muse and its expertise in scripted fare.

"It's a new area for us," Hills said. "And we come in with relationships with networks around the world and access to comedy talent."

Muse president and CEO Michael Prupas said the partnership will look to develop original comedies for Canadian networks and the international market. "We'll be opportunistic about the things we will do (financially)," he said.

Spearheading the leap into original movie and TV comedy for the new partnership will be Evi Regev, Just for Laughs manager of programming and touring, and Jesse Prupas, vp development and distribution at Muse Entertainment.

Muse is shooting "The Deal," a feature spoofing Hollywood that stars William H. Macy, Meg Ryan and LL Cool J, and "Too Young to Marry," a contemporary "Romeo and Juliet" tale for Lifetime Television and Granada Entertainment.
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