8:00am PT by Michael O'Connell
Comedy Central Orders 3 New Series and 9 Pilots
Comedy Central is not having a quiet spring. Having just announced a new companion to The Daily Show and another late-night venture fronted by Donald Trump impersonator Anthony Atamanuik, the Viacom network is entering the upfront market with three other series orders and nine new pilots in development.
The new projects heading to air include scripted series Corporate, variety hybrid The New Negroes and a U.S. spin on British import Taskmaster, which will be hosted by Reggie Watts. The sprawling development queue includes vehicles for Neal Brennan, Noel Wells and Awkwafina as well as a project from Saturday Night Live writer Chris Kelly.
"I'd say we're continuing to open up our aperture to new audiences," Comedy Central president Kent Alterman tells The Hollywood Reporter of the new crop. "It doesn't mean we're trying to appeal to everybody with any one show. When I got here, we were pretty much only doing shows by and for young white males. Now I think we're looking in all different directions at different sensibilities — and what goes along with them in terms of genres, formats and premises."
The orders cap off an aggressive few weeks for Comedy Central. With The Daily Show's ratings now steady and once again competitive with host Trevor Noah, the network recently announced that correspondent Jordan Klepper will get the coveted lead-out 11:30 p.m. time slot (former home to Stephen Colbert and Larry Wilmore) come fall. And, more immediately, The President Show arrives April 27 with a weekly skewering of Trump in the time slot.
"If Trump decided to do his version of a fireside chat, in Anthony and the co-creators' minds, he would do a late-night talk show from the White House," explains Alterman. "The way that late-night has been defined the last couple of years has expanded. It includes weekly shows and shows that aren't even in what's traditionally known as the late-night time slot. What [Atamanuik] does really transcends just mimicking the president. It's not just an impression. He really embodies something."
In success, The President Show will have a home on Comedy Central even when Klepper moves into the time slot. As for Klepper, Alterman says that he will continue to do pieces on The Daily Show before launching his yet-to-be-titled vehicle. It's all part of a larger plan to refocus late-night as the network gets some distance from its Jon Stewart heyday — and try to seize the opportunity of the current political climate. (There also are more topical shows in the pipeline with a weekly late-night series from Jim Jefferies, which premieres in the summer.) "We're living in a more heightened, extreme time, and [politics] is more relevant to people's day-to-day lives than ever," he says. "Of course, we want to be responsive to the world we're living in. It feels like the right thing to do is play to our strength, which is The Daily Show."
Not yet on deck at the network are projects from two of its more high-profile alums: Amy Schumer and Jessica Williams. The latter, still under a development deal after leaving The Daily Show in 2016, is said to be in talks about a vehicle on the network. But the shape of that project has yet to emerge. As for Schumer, her landmark sketch series remains on hiatus.
"She is so smart about knowing when she has something to say and what the best forum is for it," says Alterman, noting her schedule is already quite packed with feature work. "When she feels like she has something to say in this format, we're here with an agreement in place."
Read on for Comedy Central's full 2017 slate.
From Pat Bishop, Matt Ingebretson and Jake Weisman comes a dark, edgy look at life as a Junior-Executive-in-Training at your average, soulless multinational corporation. Matt and Jake (Ingebretson and Weisman) are at the mercy of tyrannical CEO Christian DeVille (Lance Reddick) and his top lieutenants, sycophants John and Kate (Adam Lustick and Anne Dudek). As Matt and Jake navigate an ever-revolving series of disasters, their only ally is Hampton Deville human resources rep Grace (Aparna Nancherla). Executive produced by Ingebretson, Weisman, Bishop (who also will direct) and Jake Fogelnest. Adam Londy and Ian Friedman are the executives in charge of production for Comedy Central.
Produced by Avalon Television, Taskmaster is based on the BAFTA and Royal Television Society award-nominated, internationally popular U.K. format. Reggie Watts will star as the Taskmaster who, with series creator Alex Horne as his loyal assistant, will judge five unwitting comedians as they compete against each other with creativity, cunning and genius in a series of stupefying tasks. The project is being executive produced by Watts, Horne, Richard Allen-Turner, Rob Aslett, David Martin, James Taylor, Jon Thoday, Kara Baker and Andy Devonshire, who also will direct. Kellyn Parker, Londy and Jordan Ellner are the executives in charge of production for Comedy Central.
The New Negroes
Described by The New York Times as a show that “wants to do more than simply provoke laughter … Baron Vaughn and Open Mike Eagle want to challenge ideas about what constitutes black entertainment and expand the discussion about black life in America,” The New Negroes is a socially aware stand-up and musical series showcasing a collection of new and established comedians. It is created, executive produced and co-hosted by Baron Vaughn, executive produced and co-hosted by Open Mike Eagle and executive produced by Gary Sanchez’s Betsy Koch, Funny or Die and Lance Bangs, who will direct. JoAnn Grigioni, Anne Harris and Kellyn Parker are the executives in charge of production for Comedy Central.
Pilots (all working titles)
Based on the Comedy Central digital series, this half-hour sketch show is hosted and performed by Arturo Castro (Broad City) as he attempts to navigate life as a modern Latino millennial — whatever that means. Executive produced by Castro and Avalon’s Martin, Thoday, Allen-Turner and Sam Saifer.
Based on the Comedy Central digital series, Delco Proper centers around a group of buddies from Delaware County, Pa., who’ve worked together in the same lumberyard for years. In that time, they’ve learned one thing for sure: It’s hard to change in a town that doesn’t. Written by John McKeever and Tommy Pope, with McKeever set to direct. Executive produced by McKeever, Pope, Eric Abrams, and Saifer of Avalon.
Home for the Weekend
Created, executive produced and hosted by comedian Neal Brennan, this mockumentary-style half-hour follows Neal and a celebrity guest as they take a weekend trip back to the guest’s hometown. In each episode, things veer off the rails and pleasant strolls down memory lane take unexpected turns that reveal surprising backstories and hidden details about high-profile stars. Executive produced by Party Over Here’s Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, along with Lindsay Hannon.
Created, written and executive produced by Noel Wells (who is attached to star) and Flint Wainess, Power Couple is the story of Flint and Noel, a neurotic 20-something couple in Austin, Texas, navigating the existential horrors of the Internet age while constantly clashing with friends, neighbors and the absurdity of the world around them.
Untitled Awkwafina Project
Written by Nora Lum and Teresa Hsiao, executive produced by Itay Reiss of Principato-Young Entertainment and Lum and co-executive produced by Hsiao, this half-hour scripted narrative focuses on a heightened version of Lum, better known as rapper Awkwafina, as she navigates the underground hip-hop community in Queens, N.Y.
Untitled Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider Project
Written by Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, the project features two struggling siblings who are forced to reevaluate their lives when their much younger 12-year-old brother becomes instantly famous without trying. Kelly (Other People) is set to direct. Executive produced by Kelly, Schneider, Lorne Michaels and Andrew Singer of Broadway Video.
Untitled Franchesca Ramsey Project
Led by Franchesca Ramsey, the most diverse set of comedians on TV will heal America through brutal comedy, surprising guests and breakdowns of the most pressing cultural issues you never knew you cared about. Who knew the awful truth was so hilarious? Executive produced by Ramsey, Eric Brown, Andrew Kornhaber and Kara Welker of Generate.
Untitled Jak Knight Stand-Up Project
Jak Knight hosts an underground stand-up show featuring three comedians from different genres and a unique performance from an emerging musical artist. Produced by Den of Thieves; executive produced by Knight, Molly Mandel, Lisa Mierke, Jared Morell, Jordan Barrow, Evan Prager and Jesse Ignjatovic; and directed by Chris Storer.
Untitled South Side Project
Written by Bashir Salahuddin, Diallo Riddle and Sultan Salahuddin, this workplace comedy is set in and around a rent-to-own business on the South Side of Chicago (where the Salahuddins grew up). All three writers will have roles on the show. The show will be executive produced by Bashir Salahuddin and Riddle as well as executive produced and directed by Michael Blieden.