Amazon Ordering Comedy Pilot From Bob Nelson & Sacha Baron Cohen

By Nellie Andreeva, Mike Fleming Jr

Bob Nelson continues his late-bloomer dream run. After earning an Oscar nomination for his first screenplay, Nebraska, at age 57, the writer-performer has landed his first pilot order. We’ve learned that Amazon is moving ahead with Highston, a half-hour coming-of-age comedy, written by Nelson, executive produced by Borat and Bruno‘s Sacha Baron Cohen and to be directed by the Little Miss Sunshine duo of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.

The single-camera project, which is casting, centers on Highston Liggetts, a kind 19-year-old and perched on the edge of adulthood. When he encounters a world he doesn’t understand, like Elwood P. Dowd, he retreats into his vast imagination, where famous “friends” are his companions and mentors.

Nelson executive produces with Cohen and Todd Schulman of Four By Two Films as well as Todd Hoffman and Bob Friedman of Bungalow Media + Entertainment, and Dayton and Faris.

Nelson has comedy background — before Nebraska, he was best known for his work on a local TV sketch-comedy show in Seattle. In his followup to Nebraska, Nelson wrote and directed the feature Confirmation starring Clive Owen.

Cohen is currently working on his latest feature comedy, Grimsby, which he co-wrote, produces and stars in.

Comedy has been key for Amazon’s original programming strategy. It was the genre that launched original series on the streaming platform with Alpha House and the genre that has delivered Amazon’s first major awards contender with Transparent. The company’s recent slate of comedy pilots includes Mad Dogs, Salem Rogers and Cocked. 

Nelson and Cohen are repped by WME. Dayton and Faris are with UTA.

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