Comedy Central has unveiled its 2017-2018 development slate, which includes three series pick-ups and nine pilot orders. The newly picked up series include scripted comedy Corporate; stand-up and music hybrid variety series The New Negroes, based on the comedy show; and Reggie Watts-hosted game show Taskmaster, based on the U.K. format. The nine pilots come from such auspices as Awkwfina, Neal Brennan, Arturo Castro, Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, Jak Knight, Franchesca Ramsey, Baron Vaughn and Open Mike Eagle and Flint Wainess and Noël Wells.
The slate was announced by Comedy Central president Kent Alterman, who also discussed with Deadline the network’s recently announced additions to its late-night lineup, as well as the prospects of veterans South Park and Tosh 2.0. Additionally, Alterman gave a status report on Amy Schumer’s return and possible new Key & Peele series and addressed Comedy Central’s new position as a flagship Viacom brand in the company’s recent realignment under new CEO Bob Bakish.
Corporate, a workplace comedy set at a multi-national corporation, is a spiritual successor to Comedy Central’s Workaholics, which just ended its seven-season run on the network. Like Workaholics, Corporate was created by a team (Pat Bishop, Matt Ingebretson, and Jake Weisman), some of whom also star (Ingebretson, Weisman), and one (Bishop) is behind the camera, serving as a director. “It’s a very strong and relatable show in a world that has been mined before but has such a unique take on it,” Alterman said.
The New Negroes, a stand-up and musical series showcasing comedians, “taps into something that is so real and vital, it’s tapping into black comedy while presenting multiple points of view and different angels on material and performances that is reflective of the world we are living in,” Alterman said.
As for Comedy Central decision to keep the project’s original title as it migrated from the stage to TV, it was the creators’ call, Alterman said. “I think they were really thoughtful when they arrived at that title,” he said.
Corporate and The New Negroes were picked up from pilots while Taskmaster went straight to series having the UK show as a template. It features comedians as contestants “in a very organic way,” Alterman said.
The format echoes a bit Comedy Central’s @midnight, which, after filling in for the canceled The Nightly Show at 11:30 PM, will be returning to midnight as the network will be introducing new late-night series, The President Show, starring Anthony Atamanuik as President Donald Trump, which premieres on April 27 at 11:30 PM, a Jim Jefferies weekly late night series debuting this summer in the 10:30 PM slot, and a Daily Show nightly spinoff starting Jordan Klepper, which will take over the 11:30 PM berth beginning in the fall.
On the choice of Klepper as host of Comedy Central’s new Daily Show companion, Alterman said that with his work as a correspondent on The Daily Show, Klepper “kept hitting his stride in such strong ways and resonating with the audience that it almost became an obvious invariability to spin his persona off and become the 11:30 persona.” Klepper will stay on The Daily Show as he is developing the new series.
The President Show “couldn’t be more timely and more topical,” Alterman said. He noted that the network had gotten “a lot” of pitches for Donald Trump series, but The Presidents Show stood out. “What’s compelling is that it is driven by a very basic premise, which is smart, if Trump was thinking about what would his version of a fireside chat be and how would he communicate directly with the American people — he would borrow from the sensibility of the late-night shows and have his version of a late-night show from the White House.”
As for @midnight‘s long-term prospects, “we are always looking at everything long-term,” Alterman said, adding, “there are so many moving pieces.”
Speaking of longevity, how long will Comedy Central stalwarts South Park and Tosh.0 go? “It’s guided by how long the creators want to do them and how long the audience wants to see them. So far both of those tings are lining up in a good way,” Alterman said.
There is no ETA yet for Amy Schumer’s return to her Comedy Central sketch comedy series. “We are not putting pressure on her. We use the Larry David/Curb or Louis CK/Louie model — we’re here, we have an agreement in place, it’s up to her. We don’t want to prevent her from doing the movies and the things she’s been doing. When she s ready has has things she wants to say in this format, we’re here.”
As for fellow Comedy Central sketch comedy stars,Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, who recently ended their popular series on the network, “we have various projects in development with them as a steam and as individuals, but there is no Key and Peele-centric stuff in the works at the moment,” Alterman said.
In the current Viacom cable network group revamp, Comedy Central was selected as one of the six flagship brands, which will be getting resources and movie tie-ins. “There is not a radical new strategy creatively” in the new setup, Alterman said, adding that there are no Comedy Central movie projects in the works at the moment. “Bob has laid out a long-term strategy that makes us feel good knowing that we have the backing and the resources to move forward in an effective way.”
Here is Comedy Central’s 2017-2018 CONTENT DEVELOPMENT SLATE with details on the 3 new series and 9 pilots:
• Corporate – From Pat Bishop, Matt Ingebretson, and Jake Weisman comes a dark, edgy look at life as a Junior-Executive-in-Training at your average, soulless multi-national corporation. Matt and Jake (Ingebretson and Weisman) are at the mercy of a tyrannical CEO Christian DeVille (Lance Reddick) and his top lieutenants, sycophants John and Kate (Adam Lustick and Anne Dudek). As Matt and Jake navigate an ever-revolving series of disasters their only ally is Hampton Deville Human Resources rep Grace (Aparna Nancherla). Executive produced by Ingebretson, Weisman, Bishop, who will also direct and Jake Fogelnest.
• Taskmaster – Produced by Avalon Television, Taskmaster is based on the BAFTA and Royal Television Society award-nominated, internationally popular UK format. Reggie Watts will star as the Taskmaster who, with series creator Alex Horne as his loyal assistant, will judge five unwitting comedians as they compete against each other with creativity, cunning and genius in a series of stupefying tasks. Executive produced by Watts, Horne, Richard Allen-Turner, Rob Aslett, David Martin, James Taylor, Jon Thoday, Kara Baker and Andy Devonshire, who will also direct.
• The New Negroes – Described by The New York Times as a show that “wants to do more than simply provoke laughter…Baron Vaughn and Open Mike Eagle want to challenge ideas about what constitutes black entertainment and expand the discussion about black life in America,”
The New Negroes is a socially aware stand-up and musical series showcasing a collection of new and established comedians. Created, executive produced and co-hosted by Baron Vaughn, executive produced and co-hosted by Open Mike Eagle and executive produced by Betsy Koch, Funny Or Die, and Lance Bangs, who will direct.
(all titles listed are working titles)
• Alternatino – based on the Comedy Central digital series, a half-hour sketch show hosted and performed by Arturo Castro (“Broad City”) as he attempts to navigate life as a modern Latino millennial – whatever that means. Executive Produced by Castro and Avalon’s David Martin, Jon Thoday, Richard Allen-Turner and Sam Saifer.
• Delco Proper – based on the Comedy Central digital series, centers around a group of buddies from Delaware County, PA, who’ve worked together in the same lumberyard for years. In that time, they’ve learned one thing for sure: It’s hard to change in a town that doesn’t. Written by John McKeever and Tommy Pope, with McKeever set to direct. Executive Produced by McKeever, Pope, Eric Abrams, and Sam Saifer of Avalon.
• Home for the Weekend – created, executive produced and hosted by comedian Neal Brennan, this mockumentary-style half-hour follows Neal and a celebrity guest as they take a weekend trip back to the guest’s hometown. In each episode, things veer off the rails and pleasant strolls down memory lane take unexpected turns which reveal surprising backstories and hidden details about high-profile stars. Executive produced by Brennan, Party Over Here’s Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, along with Lindsay Hannon.
• Power Couple – created, written and executive produced by Noël Wells (who is attached to star) and Flint Wainess, Power Couple is the story of Flint and Noel, a neurotic 20-something couple in Austin, Texas navigating the existential horrors of the Internet age while constantly clashing with friends, neighbors, and the absurdity of the world around them.
• Untitled Awkwafina Project – written by Nora Lum and Teresa Hsiao, executive produced by
Itay Reiss of Principato-Young Entertainment and Lum and co-executive produced by Hsiao, this
half-hour scripted narrative focuses on a heightened version of Nora Lum, better known as rapper Awkwafina, as she navigates the underground hip hop community in Queens.
• Untitled Chris Kelly And Sarah Schneider Project – written by Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, features two struggling siblings who are forced to reevaluate their lives when their much younger
12-year-old brother becomes instantly famous without trying. Chris Kelly (Other People) is set to direct. Executive produced by Kelly, Schneider, Lorne Michaels and Andrew Singer of Broadway Video.
• Untitled Franchesca Ramsey Project – led by Franchesca Ramsey, the most diverse set of comedians on TV will heal America through brutal comedy, surprising guests, and breakdowns of the most pressing cultural issues you never knew you cared about. Who knew the awful truth was so hilarious? Executive produced by Ramsey, Eric Brown and Andrew Kornhaber and Kara Welker of Generate.
• Untitled Jak Knight Stand-Up Project – Jak Knight hosts an underground stand-up show featuring three comedians from different genres and a unique performance from an emerging musical artist. Produced by Den of Thieves, executive produced by Knight, Molly Mandel, Lisa Mierke, Jared Morell, Jordan Barrow, Evan Prager, and Jesse Ignjatovic and directed by Chris Storer.
• Untitled South Side Project – Written by Bashir Salahuddin, Diallo Riddle and Sultan Salahuddin, this workplace comedy is set in and around a rent-to-own business on the South Side of Chicago (where the Salahuddins grew up). All three writers will have roles on the show. The show will be executive produced by Bashir Salahuddin and Riddle as well as executive produced and directed by Michael Blieden.