EXCLUSIVE: Scot Armstrong and Ravi Nandan are still considered TV novices. But after 2 development seasons, their company American Work recently landed its first series order at NBC for Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair’s comedy tentatively titled BFF. Now, the duo has signed a new 2-year first-look deal with the studio behind the series, Universal Media Studios. Armstrong and Nandan first ventured into TV with a comedy pitch that became the 2009 NBC/UMS pilot Off Duty. It led to a 2-year first-look deal for the company at UMS where American Work sold 4 comedy projects in the first year and 10 in the second, including BFF, which was picked up to pilot and series by new NBC chief Bob Greenblatt. One of those 10 projects, Ambulance Chasers, a workplace comedy about personal injury attorneys from Off Duty writer Jason Mantzoukas, continues to be in development at FX. “We had a great experience,” Nandan said. “Bob has a great sense of humor, he seems to really understand the type of comedy we want to do and believes in it.” Armstrong and Nandan will develop new projects for NBC with Kristen Zolner whom they brought in last year as their development executive. “We want to bring NBC back to its former glory with shows like Emeril,” deadpanned Armstrong, a feature comedy writer who has worked on such movies as Old School and Hangover II. “We’re meeting with a lot of chefs this week.”
BFF was one of the surprises of this past upfront as the low-cost single-camera presentation, produced on a budget of under $500,000, flew largely under the radar before snagging a series order. “We proved that it doesn’t take millions and millions of dollars to make a great show,” Armstrong said. “The next show we might shoot on my cell phone.” Like they did with Parham and St. Clair, Armstrong and Nandan plan to continue looking for up-and-coming comedy talent and help them create series while also working with established comedy stars. CAA-repped American Work has several feature films in development at various studios, including Road To Nardo at Sony with Armstrong attached to direct.