NBC Uni TV pacts for first look at Second City


Famous improv theater company Second City has inked a first-look deal with NBC Universal Television Studio.

The two-year pact will give the studio access to all Second City shows and talent as well as the company's library for the development of comedy content for television and different digital platforms.

"We look at it as a great resource of talent and ideas that we can share back and forth," NBC Uni TV president Angela Bromstad said. "It's another way for us to work with creative people and talent, cultivating and developing talent as early as possible."

Under the deal, any of the writers at NBC Uni TV can go to any of the Second City theaters in Chicago, Las Vegas, Detroit, Denver and Toronto to see performers they might be interested in developing for, bring a script they've written or see characters they've created workshopped there.

As part of the deal, Chicago-based Second City will beef up its presence in Los Angeles, expanding its training center and hiring a development executive.

In addition to ideas for TV shows, the deal is expected to generate shortform comedy content for distribution on mobile devices as well as online at NBC.com or the company's comedy portal DotComedy.com.

Second City owner and CEO Andrew Alexander said NBC Uni TV is a natural partner for the company. The studio produces two comedy series for NBC toplined by prominent Second City alumni: Emmy winner "The Office," starring Steve Carell, and the upcoming "30 Rock," created by and starring Tina Fey.

Additionally, the theater company's only major foray into TV, the syndicated series "Second City," aired on NBC.

"They seem to get what we are doing and get our culture," Alexander said. "It seems now the timing is perfect for improvisation-based comedies."

Second City TV most recently had a first-look deal with Sony Pictures TV.

Formed in the late '50s by students at the University of Chicago, Second City has expanded its presence with theaters in five cities, three touring companies and a show on Norwegian Cruise Line.

Second City's alums also include Mike Nichols, John Belushi, Mike Myers, Bill Murray and Gilda Radner.

NBC has been active in forging relationships with improv comedy troupes. In the past four years, the network inked two first-look deals with New York's popular Upright Citizens Brigade and a pact with the Ars Nova Theater showcase, both in conjunction with NBC Uni TV.

Second City recently signed with the Gersh Agency. The company also is repped by attorney Michael Gendler.