On the heels of Andy Samberg’s Golden Globe win last night for his work on Fox comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Fox this morning announced it had sealed a multi-year deal with The Lonely Island, forming a new alternative comedy development venture. Akiva Schaffer, Samberg and Jorma Taccone will develop an “alternative pipeline of next-generation comedy series” for the network. Through the new company, The Lonely Island will oversee the development of comedy projects that will be incubated through digital platforms, such as Hulu and Roku, with the ultimate goal of becoming full series on Fox, FX, FXX or other networks.
The Lonely Island is responsible for creating the popular SNL Digital Shorts, which spurred many water-cooler moments. Some notable shorts include D**k In A Box, Lazy Sunday, I’m On A Boat, Jack Sparrow, YOLO and The Natalie Portman Rap. In 2007, the trio won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for D**k In A Box, and a Peabody Award for the 2008/2009 season.
“These guys know what it takes to break through – whether online or on air – and they are the perfect partners to help us find the next generation of comedy hits,” Fox Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly said in this morning news.
“It’s vital that we foster more experimentation both on and off the Fox lot, so we can take more shots at identifying hits,” added Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, Senior Vice President of Multi-Platform Programming for Fox.
And Schaffer said The Lonely Island team is “super excited to work with Mr. Reilly and everyone at Fox to make innovative and cool TV shows that might not otherwise make it through the normal development process. Reilly has given us a sandbox to play in, and we’ve brought our shovels, buckets, towels, sunblock, some old Grisham paperbacks, a Luna bar – wait – what was I talking about again?”
Like Reilly said, it’s the network’s third multi-platform development initiative. In 2012, Fox launched Animation Domination High-Def, its alternative animation unit. In 2013, the network announced a strategic deal with digital studio WIGS, created by television and feature film producers Jon Avnet and Rodrigo Garcia.
Comedic rap trio The Lonely Island coined their name from the cramped West Coast apartment they shared as comic start-ups. In 2005, the trio joined NBC’s Saturday Night Live – Samberg as a cast member and Taccone and Schaffer as writers/directors. They boast 1.24 billion overall views on their YouTube channel, as well as three Platinum singles (“I’m On A Boat,” “Jizz In My Pants” and “I Just Had Sex”) and one Gold single (“Like A Boss”). The Lonely Island’s debut album, “Incredibad,” was released by Republic Records in February 2009 and is the first comedy album to reach No. 1 on iTunes. Their 2011 sophomore album, “Turtleneck & Chain,” which debuted at No. 3 on Billboard, was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Comedy Album and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “I’m On A Boat.” They recently released their third album, “The Wack Album,” in June 2013, featuring Hugh Jackman, Kristen Wiig, Robyn, Adam Levine, Kendrick Lamar, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Too $hort, Pharrell Williams, T-Pain, Billie Joe Armstrong and Solange.
Samberg last night won the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical. Brooklyn Nine-Nine will air a special episode on Sunday, February 2 after Fox’s coverage of Super Bowl XLVIII. Taccone co-wrote and directed the 2010 feature film MacGruber, starring Will Forte and Kristen Wiig. He most recently starred as Booth Jonathan in a multi-episode character arc on HBO’s Girls.
Schaffer made his feature length directorial debut with Hot Rod for Paramount Pictures in 2007, and recently directed the 2012 feature-length film The Watch, starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill.