EXCLUSIVE: While he left the White House to return to Hollywood, Kal Penn is not leaving politics completely behind. Penn’s new project for NBC will be a single-camera workplace comedy set at the United Nations, with Penn playing a key assistant to the U.S. ambassador. Writer-playwright-comedian Raphael Bob-Waksberg has been tapped to write the UMS-produced comedy, which is eyed for next fall. Scot Armstrong and Ravi Nandan’s American Work, which has a first-look deal with UMS, has come on board to co-produce the comedy, with Armstrong and Nandan executive producing alongside Penn and his manager Dan Spilo.
Going for a single-camera workplace comedy on NBC is not surprising — Penn told Mike Fleming in an interview earlier this month that “the shows I’ve most loved in the last couple of years were NBC’ 30 Rock and The Office”, both workplace comedies. And NBC “was the network we felt most in sync from sensibility perspective,” Spilo told me. Penn and Spilo met with the TV networks last year when Penn took a break from his job as White House associate director in the Office of Public Engagement to film the upcoming A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. Ironically, Penn and Spilo made the NBC deal with entertainment president Angela Bromstad and head of comedy Jeff Ingold, neither of whom are at the network now that the pact is coming into effect. But both new NBC topper Bob Greenblatt … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Scot Armstrong and Ravi Nandan are still considered TV novices. But after 2 development seasons, their company American Work recently landed its first series order at NBC for Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair’s comedy tentatively titled BFF. Now, the duo has signed a new 2-year first-look deal with the studio behind the series, Universal Media Studios. Armstrong and Nandan first ventured into TV with a comedy pitch that became the 2009 NBC/UMS pilot Off Duty. It led to a 2-year first-look deal for the company at UMS where American Work sold 4 comedy projects in the first year and 10 in the second, including BFF, which was picked up to pilot and series by new NBC chief Bob Greenblatt. One of those 10 projects, Ambulance Chasers, a workplace comedy about personal injury attorneys from Off Duty writer Jason Mantzoukas, continues to be in development at FX. “We had a great experience,” Nandan said. “Bob has a great sense of humor, he seems to really understand the type of comedy we want to do and believes in it.” Armstrong and Nandan will develop new projects for NBC with Kristen Zolner whom they brought in last year as their development executive. “We want to bring NBC back to its former glory with shows like Emeril,” deadpanned Armstrong, a feature comedy writer who has worked on such movies as Old … Read More »
Scot Armstrong and Ravi Nandan stumbled into TV producing 2 years ago. The two were working with Nandan’s old friend, writer Jason Mantzoukas, on feature projects when an idea Mantzoukas had felt better suited for TV. The three pitched the idea, it sold to NBC and eventually became the 2009 comedy pilot Off Duty starring Bradley Whitford. The pilot didn’t go to series, but NBC liked Armstrong and Nandan’s brand of comedy and signed their 4-year-old company American Work in a first-look deal. In their first TV development season last year, Armstrong and Nandan sold 4 comedy projects. This season, they have set up 10: 8 at NBC and one each at Fox and FX. “Yeah, things are growing,” Armstrong said. “I think it’s because we push the tea party agenda in all of our half-hour comedies.” Because of their deal with NBC, the bulk of American Work’s development is at the network, which had been stuck in fourth place for the past couple of seasons. “Our goal is to bring NBC from fourth to fourther,“ Armstrong quipped. For Armstrong, a feature writer who has worked on such comedies as Road Trip, Old School and, most recently Hangover II, TV has been a nice change of pace. “I love stepping away from my laptop, getting in a room with writers.” As for the writers they’ve enlisted for development, “we like working with people who are up-and-coming or helping writers make the transition from film,” Nandan said. But mostly, “we went to those people who make us laugh,” Armstrong said. Here is a list of American Work’s TV projects, all comedy: Read More »