Chris Hardwick‘s dream guests on his Comedy Central show @midnight: “Jon Hamm, Tom Hanks, Mel Brooks — Joan Rivers would be great,” he answered today at the TCA Winter TV Press Tour. “They just know how to connect with an audience, they’re natural performers. It’s not comedy that drives the show — it’s comfort,” Hardwick said. @midnight uses a rotating lineup of comedians as they battle nightly for meaningless points doled out by host Hardwick, based on their take on the day’s social media and pop culture. Hardwick started his Q&A with a filibuster, walking TV critics though how the game is played — though it’s been on the air for a while now — including one full-on Buzzfeed Brown-nose, in which he asked critics in the room to guess which of three tweets he would read was a real tweet from Buzzfeed’s Kate Aurthur. The tweets also appeared on two screens in the room in letters about a foot tall. Answer: All Three! ”I hate to interrupt, but the show has been on the air for some time — some of us have seen it,” one critic snarked peevishly, speaking for the room.
“I’m so glad you asked that!” Amy Poehler said when asked about Saturday Night Live’s recent hiring of its first black female cast member in five years, Sasheer Zamata. Poehler, who’d come to the TCA Winter TV Press Tour to talk about Comedy Central’s new series Broad City, told critics that in a recent interview she was “misquoted out of context” as if she had passed on responding to the SNL hire of the Upright Citizens Brigade alum. The talent search, which involved 12 finalists invited to audition on the SNL stage, also resulted in two staff writer hires on the veteran NBC late-night show. “I’ve not gotten a chance to say congratulations. UCB is proud,” said Poehler, a UCB founder, noting Zamata was part of UCB’s diversity program. She also congratulated the writers, Leslie Jones and LaKendra Tookes. “It’s awesome to see all those new faces on SNL.”
As for Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards, which she is co-hosting with Tina Fey for a second year? “How are you this laid back this close to the Golden Globes?” a critic asked Poehler. ”Heavily medicated,” she replied. But not so “medicated” she’d reveal anything she and Fey have up their sleeve. “I can’t spoil anything,” she said apologetically — but not. The male critic asked if there would be nudity. “Are you planning on being nude as you watch?” Poehler shot back.
Comedy Central has picked up to series pilot Big Time In Hollywood, FL with a 10-episode order. The project, produced by Ben Stiller‘s Red Hour and Brillstein Entertainment Partners, is written by Alex Anfanger and Dan Schimpf. It follows two delusional brothers and self-proclaimed filmmakers, played by Anfanger and Lenny Jacobson, who are kicked out of their parents’ house and forced to fend for themselves for the first time in their lives, leading them on an epic journey in pursuit of their American dream. Kathy Baker and Stephen Tobolowsky play the brothers’ parents, and Jon Bass co-stars in the series, whose pilot was directed by Schimpf. “Ben, Alex and Dan have fulfilled my career-long dream of having a show based in Hollywood, FL,” said Comedy Central president of original programming Kent Alterman. Added Stiller, “Big Time combines the directorial style of Hitchcock, the acting prowess of Streep, the budget of House Of Payne, and the nutritional value of Velveeta. I think people’s minds will be blown wide open. For real.” Stiller is executive producing the series with Anfanger and Schimpf, along with Red Hour’s Debbie Liebling, Stuart Cornfeld and Mike Rosenstein, and Brillstein’s Lee Kernis and Brian Stern.
Comedy Central Greenlights Animated Cop Comedy Series Produced By Rob Lowe & Will Gluck And Voiced By Lowe, Elizabeth Banks, Will Forte & Kate Mara
EXCLUSIVE: Comedy Central has given a 10-episode order to animated comedy series Moonbeam City, an absurdist take on the gritty, sex-drenched crime dramas from the 1980s. Created and executive produced by Scott Gairdner (Conan), executive produced by Olive Bridge Entertainment’s Will Gluck and Richard Schwartz and produced by Rob Lowe, Moonbeam City features a voice cast led by Lowe, Elizabeth Banks, Will Forte and Kate Mara. It follows undercover detective Dazzle Novak (Lowe), a handsome idiot who commits more crimes than most criminals. His tyrannical chief, Pizzaz Miller (Banks), won’t get off his back, and hotshot rookie Rad Cunningham (Forte) is dying to see him fail. With the world against him, Dazzle is thrust into a living nightmare: having to do actual police work. Gairdner and Olive Bridge developed the project, which falls outside of Olive Bridge’s deal with Sony TV, and took it to Lowe who came on board to star and produce. “I was hoping for 10,000 episodes, but 10 is a good start,” said Gairdner. Retorted Comedy Central’s president of original programming Kent Alterman, “Had Scott just asked, we would have given him a 10,000-episode order. Oh well, lesson learned for him.” Mark Brooks serves as supervising director, with animation by Titmouse.
Global Showbiz Briefs: BT Nets NBA Games; Comedy Central Has New Overseas Projects; Salman Khan; BAFTA; More
BT Sport Scores NBA Games In Multi-Year Deal
Britain’s aggressive BT Sport has closed a multi-year, multi-platform deal with the NBA for up to 200 games a season including regular and playoff action. Although BT has been facing off with rival Sky, which previously had the NBA games under a short-term deal, I understand the News Corp-controlled company did not bid on rights for the coming basketball seasons. BT will broadcast up to seven live games per week in the UK and Ireland starting with the Pacers at the Clippers on December 1st. Sunday games will air in UK primetime. Also included in the partnership will be several magazine shows like NBA Action, NBA Inside Stuff, NBA Tonight and NBA Countdown, while some games will stream live online.
Comedy Central Orders Pilot For New York Public Access Staple ‘The Chris Gethard Show’ From Funny Or Die, Zach Galifianakis
EXCLUSIVE: This is the dream of every public access show: New York’s cult weekly program The Chris Gethard Show will be making the leap from the local Manhattan Neighborhood Network to Comedy Central. The cable network has ordered a pilot for TCGS, a live, interactive call-in show with roots at the UCB Theater NY, which blends talk, variety and game elements. It will be produced by Funny Or Die, looking to repeat the success it’s had with another Comedy Central talk show, new late-night entry @midnight, which was just picked up for 40 weeks. Brillstein Entertainment Partners is co-producing, with Gethard and Zach Galifianakis exec producing alongside Funny Or Die’s Will Ferrell, Owen Burke, Adam McKay and Mike Farah as well as Brillstein’s Brian Stern. TCGS, whose episodes often are based on original bits, has featured such guests as Galifianakis, Sean Combs, Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler, John Mulaney, Bobby Moynihan and Andrew WK. The show also is known for championing the Brooklyn music scene and New York’s fringe artists and oddballs.
2ND UPDATE FRIDAY 7:50 AM: Comedy Central just officially announced the 40-week pickup for @midnight, whose production calendar will mirror that of Comedy Central’s other late-night shows, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. “We’re amazed at how quickly ‘@midnight’ has resonated with our fans,” said the …
Comedy Central‘s CC: Studios — the in-house creative initiative for the development of original digital comedy — today unveiled a development slate of six series greenlights and three series renewals. Projects include sketch/variety to animated to scripted narrative and feature talent including Kurt Braunohler, Dan St. Germain, Jillian Bell, Charlotte Newhouse and Ari Shaffir. The slate also features series from talent who have inked multiplatform deals with Comedy Central, including Jon Gabrus and Justin Tyler. From today’s announcement:
Pivot — the millennial-targeting network launched in August to “entertain and inspire activism” among 18- to 34-year-olds with its “completely different approach to television,” including a “very f—ed up, weird reality talk show” (said Pivot president Evan Shapiro) — today announced that the host of that very f—ed up, weird reality talk show, Meghan McCain, will interview her dad, Sen. John McCain, for the first time.
The interview, premiering Saturday, will feature Meghan asking Dad, among other things, how he turned “a crushing defeat into an inspiring comeback” during the ’08 presidential bid. In clips sent to the press today, Meghan also asked Dad how millennials “can overcome all the obstacles we are facing and still live a fulfilling life.” He said they need to be involved, but “it doesn’t have to be in the military,” ticking off a couple other ideas. More newsworthy, perhaps, Meghan asked Dad about his failed 2008 presidential race against now-President Obama and how he turned that concession speech — or, as Pivot at one point in its news release called it, his “confession speech” — from a “difficult moment into something that has turned out to be so beautiful.”