Dane Cook is heading to NBC to headline his own network comedy series. Amid interest from multiple networks, the actor-comedian has signed a development deal with NBC for a half-hour project targeted for next fall. Cook will star in the comedy and produce through his SUperFInger Entertainment banner. Cook is the second top stand-up comedian with cable TV roots to develop and star in a comedy for NBC eyed for next season, along with Sarah Silverman. NBC also has a new freshman comedy created by/starring comedian Whitney Cummings. Cook most recently guest starred on the FX comedy Louie last month in a much-talked-about episode where he and series star Louis CK put to rest the so-called joke-stealing controversy. While he has largely stayed away from broadcast TV until now, Cook’s first screen credit was a recurring role on the short-lived ABC comedy series Maybe This Time some 15 years ago. Cook has a very successful stand-up career: He has sold out arena venues such as Madison Square Garden and Staples Center, released several multi-platinum comedy albums and DVDs and starred in a slew of cable specials. On the feature side, UTA-repped Cook will next be seen in Answers to Nothing, Detention and Guns, Girls & Gambling.
EXCLUSIVE: Actress Sarah Chalke has signed a development/talent holding deal with 20th Century Fox Television. Under the pact, the studio will develop a half-hour comedy project for her targeted for fall 2012. 20th TV first got in business with Chalke when she recurred on the studio’s CBS comedy How I Met Your Mother from 2008-09 and then cast her as a lead in Greg Malins’ 2010 ABC pilot Freshmen. After the pilot didn’t make the cut to series in May 2010, the studio wanted to sign Chalke in a deal right away, but she was cast in CBS’ midseason comedy series Mad Love, so 20th TV brass were “determined to get her this year,” studio’s chairman Gary Newman said. “She is incredibly talented as a comic force — she can do physical comedy and has great timing. There is almost a Lucy quality to her,” he said, referring to comedy icon Lucille Ball.
Chalke will start meeting with writers shortly. Once she and the studio settle on a concept, the focus will be on developing that project but 20th executives will also keep an eye on other comedies in the works with characters that could be right for her. “She is incredibly castable,” Newman said. “We hope that the project we develop for her goes, but if it doesn’t, we will cast her in one of our other pilots.”
Universal Media Studios continues to build its talent roster under new NBC chief Bob Greenblatt. The studio has signed a two-year development deal with producer-director Peter Horton. Under the pact, Horton will direct, write and produce new series projects for UMS and NBC. It extends Horton’s relationship with Greenblatt, NBC and UMS, which began in January when he brought to the then-newly appointed NBC chairman Reconstruction, a script he had originally developed for FX a couple of years before. Greenblatt picked up the script, written by Josh Brand, to pilot, with Horton directing and executive producing. “I have long admired Peter’s multiple talents and his knack for making good projects even better,” Greenblatt said. “His creative skills are recognized by his industry peers because he has big and unconventional ideas that make for very inventive and entertaining television. Peter will be an important asset as we continue to re-build our studio.” Horton last had an overall deal with ABC Studios but had opted to go independent over the past several years. He said there was one reason for him to “recommit to one place” and do a deal with NBC: Greenblatt, with whom he first crossed paths almost two decades ago when Greenblatt was at Fox and Horton directed the network’s series Class of ’96. “I have stalked him ever since, because he is the best executive I’ve ever worked with,” Horton said. “Not only is he incredibly collaborative and …
EXCLUSIVE: Craig Kilborn is looking to return to TV, this time as the creator and star of a primetime comedy series. The former Daily Show and Late Late Show host has signed a development deal with ABC Studios to write a half-hour script, to which he is attached to star and produce. After a stint as anchor of ESPN’s SportsCenter, Kilborn was tapped as the original host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show before segueing to CBS’ The Late Late Show, which he hosted from 1999-2004. He served as a writer on both shows. Kilborn, repped by Innovative Artists, stayed largely off the radar for six years before he did a talk show, The Kilborn Files, which ran on the Fox stations last year.
Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino is the latest Jersey Shore cast member to sign a development deal with the network for a new reality series. MTV will film a presentation with Sorrentino later this year. It is the same template MTV used with fellow Jersey Shore standouts Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Jenni “JWoww” Farley and Paul “DJ Pauly D” Delvecchio who also shot presentations – Snooki and JWoww together and Pauly separately – under development deals with the network. Last month, MTV picked up both projects to series. At that time, the network’s EVP of programming and head of production Chris Linn confirmed that talks were under ways with other cast members, including Sorrentino, about potential new projects – Jersey Shore spinoffs or other types of reality series – and stressed that there was no politics in picking Snooki, JWoww and Pauly to headline their own shows first. “We feel all of the cast members are breakout stars, and they all have much more to offer,” Linn said. “These are just the projects that came together the quickest.”