6:00am PT by Kate Stanhope
Pop Picks Up Will Arnett, Keanu Reeves Comedies
Pop is pushing further into original programming.
The cabler has picked up three series, including the Will Arnett-produced sketch comedy Hot Date, based on the CollegeHumor web series of the same name and Swedish Dicks, Private Investigators, featuring Keanu Reeves in his first recurring TV role.
The network is also ramping up its drama portfolio with the soapy Clique, from the creators of Skins. Pop has picked up the first six episodes of the BBC Three drama and will co-produce the series, which recently won an audience award at MIPCOM, with the BBC beginning with season two.
"Our comedies really do separate us from a lot of the cable networks that are trying to break through with provocative dramas," Pop president Brad Schwartz told The Hollywood Reporter. "Everyone seems to be going for the big, sexy drama that can sell internationally and clever scripted comedies is in a unique lane in cable."
The network also unveiled seven new scripted projects in development from producers Sarah Jessica Parker (rom-com anthology It's a Date) and Krysten Ritter (genre drama The Demons of Dorian Gunn). On the unscripted side, Pop also has two projects in development: Rashida Jones' pop cultural panel show You Take My Point and Kate Walsh's traveling talk show Get in My Van.
"We definitely let creative take the lead," head of development Justin Rosenblatt said of the network's pitch to lure top talent. "We don't micro-manage their development process and we really encourage them to try things differently and push fun, provocative, culturally significant ideas that would also capitalize on our existing audience and fan base."
On Thursday, the network also announced that it has acquired the off-network syndication rights to ABC's Sony Pictures Television family comedy The Goldbergs, which will debut in the fourth quarter.
The new projects join an originals slate that also includes Schitt's Creek, which was recently renewed for season four, the Ali Wentworth-led Nightcap, horror series Wolf Creek and the unscripted summer entry Big Brother After Dark. While Schitt's Creek and Wolf's Creek are both produced by outside studios, Schwartz emphasized the importance of ownership as the network looks to expand its slate of originals. Clique will be a co-production while Swedish Dicks, Private Investigators is produced by Lionsgate, which co-owns the network with CBS Corp.
"If somebody falls in love with Schitt's Creek, we certainly want them coming to our app or our channel or our VOD to find it. So we want to own all of the rights to all of our content as much as possible," Schwartz said. "Whether we're co-producing with somebody or doing the whole thing ourselves, it's making sure that we maintain all of the rights so we can control how audiences have a relationship with our brand."
The ambitious development slate comes in the midst of strong growth for the young network formerly known as the TV Guide Network. The network is up double digits in adults 18-49 (21 percent) with seven days of delayed viewing factored in. The news also comes hours after Pop debuted its two latest original series, the soft-scripted series Hollywood Darlings and scripted comedy Return of the Mac.
"We're still in the very early stages," Schwartz said. "The fact that our second full year, we had more people watch us in primetime than Oxygen, which had a 20-year head start, is a testament to how far we've grown."
Here's a closer look at all the series orders and development projects:
Premiering this fall, the half-hour scripted comedy stars Emily Axford and Brian K. Murphy and is based on the CollegeHumor duo’s sketch videos of the same name that have garnered over 100 million online views. The television series heads into production this summer and will premiere in fall 2017. Executive produced by Will Arnett’s Electric Avenue Productions (Gong Show), Principato-Young Entertainment and Big Breakfast (Adam Ruins Everything).
Ordered to series by BBC Three, Pop boards the soapy drama as a co-producer for season two. From the creative team behind Skins, the show centers on childhood soulmates Georgia (Aisling Franciosi, The Fall) and Holly (newcomer Synnove Karlsen) as they head to university. A few weeks into the so-called best years of their lives, Georgia gets drawn into an elite clique of alpha girls, led by mysterious professor Jude Monroe (Louise Brealey, Sherlock). Clique is created and executive produced by Jess Brittain alongside executive producer Bryan Elsley.
Swedish Dicks, Private Investigators
First announced in September 2016, the comedy stars Peter Stormare (Fargo, The Big Lebowski), and features Keanu Reeves in his first TV role. The single-camera comedy follows an aging ex-stuntman stuck in the past and an overly optimistic Swedish DJ stuck in the digital world. Together they get unstuck by forming the private detective firm Swedish Dicks — solving some of the strangest and wildest cases L.A. has ever seen. From Lionsgate and Viaplay, the 10-episode first season is set for a fall premiere. The series has already earned a season two order, with production set to begin this summer.
Let's Get Physical
A mood-boosting scripted comedy playing off the 1980s world of aerobics. The show centers on a middle-aged slacker who makes a reluctant comeback in the fitness industry after his dad, the Godfather of Aerobics, unexpectedly passes away and wills his son the broken-down family gym with eccentric conditions attached in order to get his actual fortune and estate. Produced by Ben and Dan Newmark of Grandma’s House Entertainment and Connor Pritchard’s Inside Center Productions (Workaholics).
Kiss & Cry
A scripted soapy drama set in the high-stakes world of competitive figure skating from the eyes of Kat, a competitive skater who just choked during an important performance, potentially forcing herself into early retirement. Charged with caring for her unstable mother and a younger sister poised to become an Olympic figure skating star, Kat must also battle her own inner demons to survive. Her only hope at reviving her skating career is to become a pair skater and take on an entitled new male partner under the exacting eye of a demanding new coach. Written by Samantha Stratton (Search Party) and produced by Safehouse Pictures’ Tory Tunnell and Joby Harold (Underground).
The Demons of Dorian Gunn
Shocked to discover he’s from a long line of demon hunters, disgraced New York socialite Dorian Gunn unwillingly abandons his life of leisure to protect humanity from monsters as they emerge from the gates of hell. Written by Evan Greenspoon and Brandon Scott Jones and exec produced by Tony Hernandez and Lilly Burns of JAX Media (Younger, Broad City), Kara Welker, and actress Krysten Ritter through her production banner Silent Machine.
It's a Date
The scripted project is described as the ultimate comedy anthology about the pursuit of love — an irreverent, funny and no-holds-barred exploration of modern-day courtship and looking for love. Sarah Jessica Parker and Alison Benson’s Pretty Matches (Divorce) exec produce with Laura Waters’ Princess Pictures (Ja’ime: Private School Girl, Summer Heights High).
An off-the-wall scripted comedy series about Peaches, who was born a boy but had to be raised as a girl after his parents lose a pie-eating contest wager — and the only way for them to keep him was to hide his gender. This audacious series follows Peaches Walker’s journey from small town Georgia to L.A. to reconnect with his troubled socialite best friend from childhood. Written by Barry Safchik and Michael Platt (Grace and Frankie) and produced by Michael Rosenberg’s Rosey TV (Hell on Wheels) with Entertainment One (Mary Kills People, Ransom).
The New and Improved Pixie Wexler
A broad scripted comedy following the quirky and enthusiastic ad woman Pixie Wexler. A former child commercial star now fresh out of grad school, Pixie embarks on her career as a copywriter at a Chicago ad agency. On her first day in the office, most of the agency’s staff is fired in the wake of an embezzling scandal. Pixie must prove her worth in a competitive new workplace full of eccentric characters, including her ex-boyfriend. Written by John Montgomery (Superior Donuts) and produced by Mark Teitelbaum (Superior Donuts), Bill D’Elia (How to Get Away with Murder) and John Montgomery (Superior Donuts).
A contemporary comedic fairytale in which Prince Charming leaves Cinderella behind in Fantasyland and winds up in present-day Venice Beach, befriending a lovable loser who leans on the prince for lessons in love and courtship. Written by Jay Baxter (I’ll Be Home for Christmas) and Shaun Zaken (Wizards of Waverly Place) and production company TBA.
Get in My Van
A talk-travel show hosted by Kate Walsh and her best friend, comedian Arden Myrin (Shameless), as they travel the country in their pimped-out RV meeting real people and celebrity friends alike through hilarious reality segments and interviews. Magical Elves (Top Chef) produces.
You Take My Point
An unconventional pop culture panel show hosted by Mary McCormack (Divorce) from the comfort of her own Hollywood Hills living room. Regulars on Mary’s couch include her best friends Rashida Jones, who will also produce, Chelsea Handler and McCormack's brother, director Will McCormack (A to Z), along with a rotating panel of celebrity guests. The unscripted show gives unique insight into what makes these stars tick, all through the lens of celebrity TV viewing habits. Matador (Lip Sync Battle) produces.