Nellie Andreeva

Viacom’s MTV Networks, led by Comedy Central, is starting a new comedy awards franchise, The Comedy Awards. The first annual Comedy Awards show will be held at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom on Saturday, March 26 and will air on Sunday, April 10, 2011, running simultaneously on MTV Networks’ Comedy Central, Spike TV, TV Land, VH1 and Nick At Nite.

The show, which will be executive produced by veteran Don Mischer, will recognize “the year’s best comedy films, television series and digital content” with awards for writers, directors and actors as well as lifetime achievement honors for “pioneering legends.” Nominees will be be selected by The Comedy Awards’ board of directors whose founding members include James Burrows, Billy Crystal, Will Ferrell, Whoopi Goldberg, Brad Grey, Seth MacFarlane, Adam McKay, Jimmy Miller, Jay Roach, Ray Romano, Rory Rosegarten, Phil Rosenthal.  The winners will be chosen by an invitation-only voting body comprised of 500-1000 members from the comedy community — including writers, producers, performers and directors.  There will be several awards determined by fans through online voting at  thecomedyawards.com

In conjunction with the launch of The Comedy Awards, the MTVN Entertainment Group has joined forces with the Entertainment Industry Foundation to launch The American Comedy Fund, designed to provide  financial assistance, health benefits and other resources for comedians  in need. The American Comedy Fund will be administered by EIF in collaboration with the Motion Picture & Television Fund and The Actors Fund.

There hasn’t been a major comedy awards franchise since the American Comedy Awards folded in 2001 after running for 15 years, the first 14 on ABC and the final year on Comedy Central. In 2003, Comedy Central also took a stab at launching a comedy awards with the short-lived The Commies. MTV Networks is looking to turn The Comedy Awards into a tentpole awards franchise of the likes of MTV’s Video Music Awards, Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards and the Comedy Central roasts.

Don Mischer Prods.’ Don Mischer and Charlie Haykel are executive producing alongside Casey Patterson, SVP, event production, MTVN Entertainment Group.

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