Are things getting reversed this development season? The unwritten rule of the annual broadcast pitch season is that drama projects go out first, followed by comedy. But while hourlong pitches have been sluggish out of the gate this summer, comedy projects have been coming fast and furious. As of week ago, one major broadcast network had already heard more than 40 comedy pitches. A lot of the early comedy activity was driven by Sony TV, which has already sold 17-18 half-hour scripts, including a Bewitched remake at CBS, from write Marc Lawrence and the producers of Nora Ephron’s panned feature adaptation, single-camera comedy Let It Go at Fox, written by DJ Nash and executive produced by Peter Tolan and Michael Wimer, about a guy obsessed with the social contact, as well as a half-hour project from Pam Brady at CBS about retirees moving to a college town, and BAMFS, a high-school comedy at ABC from writer Leah Rachel and producer Jamie Tarses. Meanwhile, Rough House has sold the first project under its recently signed pod deal with 20th TV, a comedy at Fox about a disastrous mayor written by Max Winkler and Jake Johnson to be directed by Winkler (Ceremony).
Sony is traditionally early to the marketplace as an independent studio that benefits from pitching shows when the networks’ development coffers are still full. Also energizing the comedy market is the fact that there is a new head of comedy at NBC, Tal Rabinowitz, and a new broadcast buyer, the CW, which is open for comedy pitches this year. And while the biggest commitments so far this season have gone to drama projects, the Marc Guggenheim/Greg Berlanti legal drama at Fox and the Michael Brandt/Derek Haas firefighter drama from Wolf Films at NBC, the large volume of early comedy sales has industry people take notice. What’s more, the first off-cycle pilot order this summer also went to a comedy, the Marco Pennette/Dave Flebotte project starring Kirstie Alley.