EXCLUSIVE: TBS is reentering the unscripted arena with a pilot order for Undercover Karaoke (working title), a half-hour hidden-camera project from Funny or Die based on the comedy site’s viral hit Undercover Karaoke with Jewel video. Undercover Karaoke will feature celebrities disguised as regular people going to everyday events where they perform as the superstars they really are. Undercover Karaoke with Jewel featured the singer disguised as a mousy-looking, mild-mannered businesswoman who had a Susan Boyle moment when she performed some of her signature songs to a dumbfounded audience at a local karaoke bar. The video’s creator Eric Appel and executive producer Mike Farah of Funny or Die will executive produce the TBS pilot with Gary Sanchez Prods.’ Chris Henchy. The pilot will be produced internally at Funny Or Die with input by the company’s creative director Andrew Steele and partners/co-founders Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Undercover Karaoke with Jewel went viral when it premiered on Funny Or Die in August, generating 2.5 million views in its first 3 days and sparking interest in the reality marketplace. The tally has since risen to over 3.3 million views.
Funny Or Die, a leading Web site for comedy videos launched almost 4 years ago by Ferrell and McKay’s Gary Sanchez Prods., has been branching out beyond the Internet. It has spawned Funny Or Die Presents, a sketch comedy series for HBO that has been renewed for a second season, and a successful comedy touring franchise. With its comedic bent, Undercover Karaoke is clearly designed to to fit with TBS’ expansive sitcom slate. The cable network’s previous notable reality efforts include the Mike Fleiss-produced The Real Gilligan’s Island and the gender-bendering He’s a Lady. The concept of well known people using everyday-people disguise to go undercover is popular in reality TV, especially on CBS which has two franchises that employ it: hit reality series Undercover Boss and series of specials I Get That A Lot.