Taran Killam to Star in Jason Katims' Showtime Pilot 'Mating'; Jay Pharoah to Topline 'White Famous'

The duo recently exited NBC's 'Saturday Night Live.'
Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic; Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images
Taran Killam (left), Jay Pharoah

Days after exiting Saturday Night Live, Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah have landed new gigs at Showtime.

Killam has been tapped to star in Mating, the comedic anthology pilot from Parenthood and Friday Night Lights creator Jason Katims, while Pharoah will topline the cabler's Jamie Foxx comedy White Famous, Showtime president David Nevins announced Thursday at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour. The executive, speaking to reporters after his time in front of the press, stressed that it was "coincidence" that Showtime landed both actors just days after they were released from SNL. "[It was] two different producers pursuing separately," he said, noting Killam and Paroah's dismissal from the Lorne Michaels series "was not expected by me." 

Written and created by Stu Zicherman (The Americans, Lights Out, Six Degrees), Mating explores modern dating, with each season exploring a different protagonist's journey. The comedy will center on a recently divorced guy who tries to evolve and connect, one date at a time.

The casting lifts the contingency off the project, which hinged on finding a leading man for the yearlong anthology. Sources say the role is a one-year deal as season two would tell a different story. Zicherman will pen the script and executive produce Mating alongside Katims and his Universal Television-based True Jack Productions topper Michelle Lee. The project was first put in development in August 2014. With the pilot order, Showtime has boarded the comedy as a co-production with Universal Television. 

Mating is True Jack's latest small-screen project. Katims also is writing the pilot for romantic drama Us at HBO as well as CBS drama Pure Genius. Additionally, True Jack is exec producing Hulu's cult drama The Path, which was renewed for a second season. For Showtime, meanwhile, Mating serves as a reunion for Katims and David Nevins, who exec produced Friday Night Lights. 

White Famous, meanwhile, hails from Tom Kapinos, who will pen the script. The project is based on an original idea by Foxx. The comedy marks a return for Kapinos to Showtime following his seven-season run on the David Duchovny-starring series Californication. A co-production between Lionsgate Television and Showtime, the comedy pilot focuses on a talented, young African-American comedian (Pharoah) whose star is rising, forcing him to navigate the treacherous waters of maintaining his credibility as he begins to cross over toward becoming “white famous.”

The news follows the recent departures of Pharoah and Killam from SNL.

"Our conversations have been with the actors and it's been happening over the last several weeks, probably a month, individually. We were prepared to work around their SNL schedules," Nevins said of talks with SNL creator Michaels about signing the duo as they were heading into their last year on the show. The conversations about both castings predated SNL's decision to fire both actors, who had a year remaining on their respective deals.