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Jimmy Kimmel Backing Scripted-Reality Hybrid Described as 'Borat Meets Green Acres' (Exclusive)

UP: Jimmy Kimmel
Harper Smith/ABC
Jimmy Kimmel

The project is among multiple series being shopped by DiGa’s Tony DiSanto and Liz Gateley, who are also producing Lance Bass’ “Famous Yard Sale.”

Tony DiSanto and Liz Gateley’s DiGa are shopping a hybrid reality/scripted project with Jimmy Kimmel’s Jackhole Industries described as “Borat meets Green Acres.”

“It’s a passion project for Jimmy,” says DiSanto, co-owner and founder of DiGa, the production company he created with Gateley after the duo left MTV in 2010.

The untitled project will have fictional characters in a non-fiction world, much like Sacha Baron Cohen’s obtuse Kazakh journalist in Borat.

“It plays on the idea of how far hospitality and politeness get pushed and does it in way that also examines culture clashes,” explains DiSanto. Kimmel will executive produce but he will not have an on-camera role. DiSanto and Gateley are currently pitching the project to networks.

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They’re also working with former ‘N Sync star Lance Bass on a television series version of his Famous Yard Sale charitable initiative, which helps celebrities auction off their memorabilia and other cast-offs including clothes, shoes, art and furniture with the proceeds going to charity. Bass has already registered the Famous Yard Sale domain name and Twitter handle. The show will have a host and appraiser working with celebrities to organize each auction. DiSanto says the idea came from Bass’ personal quandary about what to do with a warehouse full of remnants from his ‘N Sync days.

“You get a little bit of [MTV’s] Cribs, a little bit of the Barbara Walters aspect where the celebrity is walking down memory lane, and a little bit of Pawn Stars,” says Gateley. Bass brought the idea to DiGa, which developed the concept and brought in New York-based Leftfield Pictures, which produces History’s Pawn Stars, to showrun.

Gateley said they’re currently lining up celebrities to be featured in the show. And while she said Bass would be happy to fill the Barbara Walters-host role, that will ultimately be up to the network that buys the project. They’re currently shopping it to broadcast and cable networks.

“It has big set-piece moments so it can definitely play on some of the broadcast networks,” says Gateley. “But it works equally well on cable.”

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The Kimmel and Bass projects are two of many in development at DiGa, which has a production partnership with Ben Silverman’s Electus. They have projects in development with a slew of celebrities including Tyrese Gibson, Molly Simms, Randy Jackson, Reverend Run and Fashion for Dummies author Jill Martin. Additionally, MTV’s Teen Wolf, which DiSanto and Gateley continue to EP, is in production on its second season set to bow this summer.

“We’re really excited about the diversity of projects, networks and talent that we’re working with,” says DiSanto.

And finding themselves on the other side of the negotiating table, while it has taken some getting used to, has also been a positive experience for the longtime MTV executives.

Since they started their careers at MTV as producers, says Gateley, “we always had to pitch upstairs. It’s just now we have to wait for the go-ahead. Of course, taking notes is always fun. We dished them out for many years and now we get to take them, so we deserve our comeuppance.”

Adds DiSanto: “The notes process is helpful no matter who you are. Often you’re so close to the project that sometimes you need an outside eye to help shape it. So far it’s been an amazingly cool, collaborative and eye-opening process.”

Email: Marisa.Guthrie@thr.com

Twitter: @MarisaGuthrie