NBC has pushed The Kenan Show to the 2020/21 season as the network becomes the latest broadcaster to talk up its off-cycle development process.
The Kenan Show was picked up to series in May but NBC wanted to give Kenan Thompson time to craft the show and manage his workload, given he’s still on Saturday Night Live and Bring The Funny.
Paul Telegdy, who became sole Chairman of NBC Entertainment in October, revealed the move during his exec session at the Winter TCA press tour.
“When a star is given to this network time and time again, we reciprocate. What we gave Kenan back was time, time to create a show he wants, time to do the projects he’s doing and that he loves, and a little time for his family. So The Kenan Show will come next season, and I think it’s stronger, smarter and funnier than it would be if we forced it through the traditional cycle,” he said.
The former BBC exec said it was one facet of its year-round development process. “In the past year I’ve met with a lot of creators, because I was new to the job, and some of them thrive on the traditional cycle, much maligned pilot season, and they love that their writers’ rooms stay open while the show’s still on air because it gives them this contemporaneous ability to draw on the cave painting of modern American life and add the stories and see what casts work, what the chemistry looks like,” he said.
“We’re never going to give up pilot season, but our development is really, really year-round now. We’re working closely with creators and asking them what works best for you and what works best for the storytelling, and they’re open to the idea that there are multiple pathways to success. And this has been a bit of the business everyone’s obsessed about, but it feels very natural to us.”
The Kenan Show, which is written by Jackie Clarke and directed and executive produced by Chris Rock, centers on Kenan (Thompson), who strives to be a super dad to his two adorable girls, played by Dani Lockett and Dannah Lockett, while simultaneously balancing his job and a father-in-law, played by Andy Garcia, who “helps” in the most inappropriate ways. Punam Patel also co-stars. It is produced by Universal TV and Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video.
Also off-cycle is an LA mayoral comedy from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. The series, which stars Ted Danson and Holly Hunter, was handed a straight-to-series order in July. The show, which is produced by 3 Arts Entertainment, Universal Television, Little Stranger and Bevel Gears, stars Danson as a wealthy businessman who runs for mayor of Los Angeles for all the wrong reasons. Once he wins he has to figure out what he stands for, gain the respect of his staff, and connect with his teenage daughter, all while humanely controlling the coyote population. Hunter will play Arpi, a longtime liberal councilwoman. Having dedicated her life to the betterment of Los Angeles, she makes no secret of her disdain for the newly elected Mayor Bremer, whom she considers unqualified, sexist, and too tall to be trusted. In addition to Danson and Hunter, Saturday Night Live vet Bobby Moynihan was previously announced in the cast as Jayden, the interim director of communications in the newly elected mayor’s office.
“Being able to free experienced creators like Robert and Tina, to really sink their teeth into the material, giving them creative runway that makes them able to make decisions long‑term also gives us a solid building block for the schedule months in advance so that we can plan for special launches or big occasions,” Telegdy added.
Telegdy’s comments come after ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke and Fox president of entertainment Michael Thorn told Deadline that they were both moving off-cycle. Burke told Deadline that it had rebranded the efforts “second cycle” and was stepping up plans to order pilots outside of the traditional January to March window, while Thorn added its hopes was to eventually be “completely” off-cycle.
The moves come as Telegdy reiterated the network’s hopes to bring more “flexibility” to its schedule. In May, he told Deadline that it also wanted to become more flexible when it comes to episode orders and that it wanted to “rewrite the rules” of the traditional network development process.
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