An irreverent, single-camera workplace comedy from Vicious co-creator Gary Janetti has landed at NBC with a put pilot commitment. Tentatively titled Bumbleberry Lane, the project, from Warner Bros. TV where Janetti is under an overall deal, is set behind the scenes of a racially diverse, politically correct children’s puppet program where everyone and everything is incredibly, politically incorrect. (The puppet show’s description and name, Bumbleberry Lane, sounds like a take on PBS’ venerable Sesame Street).
In the vein of The Larry Sanders Show (but with puppets) and Fox’s underrated 2002 comedy Greg the Bunny, Bumbleberry Lane is described as a big ensemble comedy in which a group of misfits working at a public television children’s show try to prevent their messy personal lives from spilling over into their jobs, sometimes resulting in puppets behaving badly. The R-rated show behind the G-rated show.
Foul-mouthed puppets have been a hit on Broadway the last few years with Avenue Q — which also draws parallels to Sesame Street and was actually originally conceived as a TV series — and Hand To God. Puppets also are making a return to primetime with ABC’s upcoming The Muppet Show, which also is set behind-the-scenes of a TV show though it is an 8 PM family-friendly comedy that follows the wise-cracking puppet characters, not the people who handle them.
In addition to co-creating British comedy Vicious, starring Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi as a bickering long-time gay couple, comedy veteran Janetti worked on Will & Grace and Family Guy. He is repped by UTA.
NBC, which retreated from comedy in the past year, has been aggressive on the half-hour front early into the 2015-2016 development season. The network yesterday announced a straight-to-series order to a project from Mike Schur and a pilot order to a comedy produced by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, both from Universal TV, as well as pilot orders to two projects submitted through the NBC Playground initiative. NBC also has given big commitments to two high-concept comedies from WBTV, a pilot production commitment to the DC Comics-themed Powerless and a put pilot to Bumbleberry Lane.
“Comedy is very important to us,” NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said at TCA yesterday.