Nellie Andreeva

In a symbolic passing-of-the-baton move, less than a week after Nickelodeon‘s veteran comedy iCarly ended its five-season run, the cable network is greenlighting a spinoff series from iCarly creator Dan Schneider starring series standout Jennette McCurdy. Nickelodeon has given a 20-episode order to comedy Sam & Cat, toplined by McCurdy and her close friend Ariana Grande, co-star of another Schneider-created Nickelodeon comedy ending its run, Victorious. Both are reprising their roles in Sam & Cat, in which the feisty Sam Puckett (McCurdy) and daffy Cat Valentine (Grande) become best buddies and unlikely roommates. They love their freedom and independence but quickly realize that fun and adventure do not come cheap. Rather than get traditional after-school jobs, Sam and Cat become teen entrepreneurs by starting their own baby-sitting business. Production on the series begins in January for a 2013 premiere. “Jennette and Ariana are adored by our audience, and it’s great to unite these talented actresses in this hilarious new comedy from Dan Schneider,” said Russell Hicks, Nickelodeon’s President, Content Development and Production. “This show promises to deliver on what our audience loves most about these two favorite characters — laugh-out-loud humor and non-stop adventure, and is sure to be a compelling new chapter for our new comedic duo.”

Sam & Cat was one of two iCarly spinoff pilots Nick ordered in August, along with Gibby starring Noah Munck — also from Schneider, who is under a rich overall deal at the network. Schneider is with WME and attorney Tom Fineman. Actress-singer McCurdy is with UTA and Management 360. Fellow actress-singer Grande is with CAA and Untitled. The two recently wrapped the Nick original movie Swindle.

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