EXCLUSIVE: As he heads into his 16th season on NBC’s late-night staple Saturday Night Live, Kenan Thompson also is setting his sights on primetime. In one of the biggest deals for a comedy project so far this season, NBC has given a production commitment to Saving Larry, a single-camera comedy starring Thompson. It hails from SNL creator/executive producer Lorne Michaels and his Broadway Video as well as Superstore executive producer Jackie Clarke.
Thompson, who recently told Deadline that he says he’d happily stay on Saturday Night Live “forever,” likely would leave the show — at least as a full-time cast member — should Saving Larry goes to series as the two would be difficult to juggle.
Written by Clarke, Saving Larry centers on a dad (Thompson) who, after his wife dies, has to be both mother and father to his kids. And he has to do it all with his father-in-law hovering over him.
Thompson, a married father of two, and Clarke executive produce with Michaels and Andrew Singer for Broadway Video. Universal Television, where Broadway Video has a deal, is the studio.
Last year Thompson officially became the longest-running SNL cast member, with 15 seasons under his belt. He started on the show in 2003 as its youngest performer. This year Thompson landed his first acting Emmy nomination for his work on the sketch comedy series, where he is known for such popular sketches as “What Up With That?” and “Black Jeopardy!”, along with his impressions of Steve Harvey hosting Family Feud, Al Sharpton and Bill Cosby. Thompson, who just won a Music and Lyrics Emmy for SNL‘s “Come Back Barack”, is repped by UTA, Michael Goldman and Del Shaw.
Saving Larry would mark Thompson’s return to comedy series, where he first rose to fame on Nickelodeon with All That and its spinoff Kenan & Kel. NBC previously developed a primetime comedy series vehicle for him, also produced by Michaels, during the 2012-13 season. That project had a script commitment.
Michaels is known for transitioning on- and offscreen SNL talent to NBC’s primetime. He has executive produced such comedy series for the network as the Emmy-winning 30 Rock, Up All Night and A.P. Bio, which was renewed for a second season.
SNL broke its own record for most overall Primetime Emmy wins again this year, adding eight more statuettes to its tally, including Variety Sketch series.
Clarke, who has performed at UCB Theatre in Los Angeles, has been on NBC/Uni TV’s Superstore since Day 1, rising to executive producer. Her series writing credits also include NBC’s Undateable and ABC’s Happy Endings. She is repped by UTA and Felker Toczek.