EXCLUSIVE: NBC is renewing its efforts to bring animation back to its comedy lineup. The network has given a presentation order to Mystery Island, an animated comedy voiced and co-written by The Office alum Ed Helms. Helms has teamed on the project with former Office writer-producer Graham Wagner. The duo, who met on the long-running NBC workplace comedy, are co-writing Mystery Island — set on an island where holidaymakers get marooned after their cruise ship malfunctions — for Universal TV where Helms’ newly launched company Pacific Electric Picture Co. has a first-look deal. The two executive produce with Pacific Electric Picture EVP Michael Falbo. This marks the second sale for both Wagner and Pacific Electric Picture. Wagner also is co-writing/exec producing NBC’s live-action The Younger Man, a starring vehicle for Justin Long, who is co-writing with his brother Christian, with Jason Winer exec producing. Pacific Electric Picture also has a live-action NBC comedy project with Aisha Muharrar.
NBC had abandoned animated comedy for several years following the 2004 series Father Of The Pride. It restarted development in the arena a couple of years ago, driven by The Office executive producer Greg Daniels, who was looking to return to his animated roots as co-creator of King Of The Hill. NBC developed several toon projects with Daniels, including one written/voiced by Mindy Kaling. Wagner is with ICM Partners and Meridian Artists; Helms is with CAA and Principato Young.