Executives discuss future of studio sitcom

BBC's Kenton Allen declares 'Silly is back'

MONTREAL - Does the multi-camera studio sitcom have a future? And what kind of shows are development executives at major networks looking for these days?

Those were two of the questions that a panel of TV comedy veterans discussed Thursday at the Just Comedy industry conference.

Kenton Allen, creative head, comedy and comedy North at the BBC, predicted a rebound of studio sitcoms with live audiences in the UK., suggesting that orders seem up. "Silly is back," he said, pointing to the needs of audiences. "On the cusp of a recession, they will want things that are big and loud and funny."

Suzanna Makkos, vp of comedy development for Fox Broadcasting, also suggested that multi-camera shows aren't complete history yet. "We can have another hit with multi-cam," she said. "The reason I do this is 'Seinfeld,' and I'm always looking for that (kind of) show. We're still in the multi-camera business and always will be."

However, the bar for developing multi-camera and other TV comedy projects has been raised.

"Mediocracy in this business is over," she said. There is "more scrutiny than ever."

Comedy Central content development guru Lou Wallach, meanwhile, said "we never were in the studio multi-camera sitcom...we'll never be."

Asked about key focus areas, Makkos also said Fox is "very interested in and desperate for" finding another show that can hold the ratings of "The Simpsons" as part of its Sunday night animated comedy block.