EXCLUSIVE: From the network that made international stars out of Snookie and The Situation comes a comedy about young people’s obsession with celebrity and with reality TV as a way to become famous. MTV has given the green light to single-camera comedy pilot Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous, co-created by hot 20-year-old comedian Bo Burnham and writer Dan Lagana and starring Burnham. It is a mocumentary, which centers on Zach (Burnham), a kid fresh out of high school who hires a camera crew to film him because he wants to be famous. “It’s that idea that your life is not worth anything if you’re not watched,” Burnham said.
Burnham said he’s always been a fan of mocumentaries, but while they mostly are about subjects being caught in the act and often embarrassed, he decided to put a spin on the genre by giving the person who is being watched control. “The idea is of a kid who is filming his own life, and since he has control, we can see multiple takes as he is trying to make himself more appealing by thinking that you have to act like you are famous in order to be famous,” Burnham said. “He is the director and the star of a reality show.” Burnham cites a survey of 18- to 25-year-olds asked what they want to be in life. The winning “profession” by a wide margin — being famous. “People aspire to fame as if it’s a career,” Lagana said.
Burnham had been attached to Lagana’s feature script Unique Visitor, so he called him up and the two developed the idea and wrote the script with Luke Liacos. The three are executive producing with Burnham’s manager, Dave Becky of 3 Arts. Lagana, repped by CAA and the Gotham Group, has an existing relationship with MTV as he just worked on the cable network’s animated comedy Good Vibes. On the feature side, he wrote Spanking Shakespeare at Paramount, which John Stalberg is on board to direct, and just sold his feature pitch The Pool to Fox with Will Speck & Josh Gordon attached to direct. Gersh-repped Burnham, who is also a musician, describes his act as a one-man show that blends songs and stand-up. He found fame while in high school as comedy videos he started posting at 16 quickly took off and have garnered more than 70 million views to date. He was about to start college when he pulled out and has been touring successfully in the U.S. and internationally for the past three years. He has done a Comedy Central special and recently won the network’s 2011 Stand-Up Showdown, he has sold 200,000 comedy CDs and won a prize at last year’s Edinburgh comedy festival. On the feature side, he is a attached to a musical project from Judd Apatow.