British TV producer Ash Atalla has sold his first two American projects — both comedies — to CBS. They are being produced by CBS TV Studios, where Atalla and his company Roughcut TV signed a first-look deal last year. In the UK, Atalla served as a producer on The Office and executive producer on The IT Crowd, both of which were remade in the U.S. by NBC. The formats’ travel to the U.S. put Atalla in contact with U.S. producers, executives and agents and got him thinking about a move across the pond for himself, too. “I thought the world of comedy was getting smaller and smaller, and I found myself knowing more and more about American television,” he said. “I really enjoyed the Americans, liked the longer runs of their shows and through that one day it may be interesting to develop shows directly for the American networks.” Atalla already has experience producing under the U.S. model, which he got to know through his friendship with former Friends executive producer Adam Chase, who created a series for BBC Three, Clone, produced by Atalla and his company. Atalla’s latest comedy series, Trollied at Sky 1, employs a U.S.-style writing staff and recently received a two-season, 26-episode order, which is pretty substantial for the UK where shows usually produce a 6-8-episode season at a time. The lead writers on that show, Nat Saunders and Chris Hayward, are writing one of Atalla’s projects for CBS, an untitled comedy about a guy with OCD. Bringing UK writers to develop directly for the U.S. networks was part of Atalla’s plan. “There is a misconception that the two countries are comedically far apart. That is false,” said Atalla, who along with Saunders and Hayward, recently signed with CAA. Atalla, Here are descriptions of Atalla’s 2 CBS comedy projects:
I Lick My Cheese
writer: Jamie Denbo
logline: Two college sweethearts buy their first home, a fixer-upper. But the nest-building dream soon turns sour when the cost of remodeling spirals out of control and they’re forced to sublet the spare rooms. I Lick My Cheese is based on the book by Oonagh O’Hagan -– a collection of real-life notes from the frontline of room-sharing.
writers: Nat Saunders & Chris Hayward
logline: After a near-death experience, an OCD-sufferer realizes there’s more to life than working at the family funeral home. But it’s not easy making new friends and finding love when his old habits die really hard.
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