EXCLUSIVE: Comedies continue to be white-hot this pitch season. The latest to spark major bidding wars are an 1980s half-hour from Breaking In co-creator Adam F. Goldberg and a mocumentary-style comedy from Alan Schoolcraft and Brent Simons, co-writers of DreamWorks Animation’s Megamind. Both projects hail from Sony TV, which has been very aggressive at the onset of this development season, as well as two of the studio’s highest-profile pods: Happy Madison (the Goldberg project) and Will Gluck’s company (the Schoolcraft/Simons project), which in May signed a two-year development and production deal with Sony for film and TV. Both comedies have received interest from all four major broadcast networks and will likely command series/production commitments. For the Gluck-produced comedy, I hear the field has been narrowed to ABC and NBC, while for the Goldberg project it is still wide open.
The Adam Goldberg project is described as an autobiographical show about growing up in the 1980s with a highly screwed up but loving family. It reunites the auspices of Fox’s cult favorite Breaking In, which also was co-produced by Happy Madison and Sony TV. Film and TV writer Goldberg, who has an overall deal at Sony TV, co-created with Seth Gordon Breaking In, which was canceled in May after a brief midseason run but remains in contention for a midseason berth on the network, something that may help Fox snatch Goldberg’s new project. The Gluck-produced The Yard presents the life lessons of elementary school as seen through the lens of an Office-like documentary.
The big bidding wars come on the heels of a similar competitive situation for the Sarah Silverman/20th TV comedy project, which landed at NBC with a put pilot commitment last week. They underscore a trend this pitch season as drama projects have been sluggish out of the gate while comedy pitches have been earlier, larger in number and commanding bigger commitments compared to the same point of the development season during previous years. Sony TV alone has sold 21 comedies to date, 12 of them with penalties. A top industry executive attributed the fewer big drama deals so far to the fact that the broadcast networks picked up a lot of new hourlong series for next season, making many top TV writers unavailable for development. At the same time, “comedy is enjoying a little bit of a Renaissance,” the insider said. “There is a lot of interest at the networks who say, ‘we need comedies,’ ” so studios are working extra hard on developing half-hours and are taking them out as soon as they are ready.