NBC sets Mohr on search

Following 'Idol' trail, host to hunt for best comedians

Comedian Jay Mohr (“Action,” “Jerry McGuire”) will partner with NBC to search for the “Funniest Person in America.”

The Peacock has ordered eight episodes of the tentatively titled project, which will take a behind-the-scenes look (a la “Project Greenlight”) at Mohr as he scouts around the country for fresh talent. Reality skein comes from Peter Engel Prods., in association with NBC Enterprises and Giraffe Prods.

Details have yet to be ironed out, but the talent search will eventually narrow down to 10 comedians, who will then live together in a house and compete for a network primetime development deal. A pilot, then called “Comic House,” was shot in June.

Mohr, who most recently hosted the ESPN nightly series “Mohr Sports,” is in the midst of a two-year first-look film and television deal at Disney, but ABC ultimately passed on “Funniest Person in America.”

“In watching numerous reality shows, I realized that the people most deserving of at least 15 minutes of fame are comedians,” Mohr said. “This show is a wonderful opportunity to give a much-deserved ‘big break’ to the hardest working people in show business that I know.”

Mohr will exec produce “Funniest Person in America,” along with Engel (“Saved by the Bell”) and longtime manager Barry Katz. Rob Fox (“Real World,” “The Osbournes”) will serve as co-exec producer.

Mohr hooked up with Peter Engel Prods. through Brittany Levin, director of creative affairs at the NBC-based shingle. Levin was an exec at Silver Pictures when the company produced the critically acclaimed but short-lived “Action.” Mohr and Levin kept in touch, and Levin introduced him to Engel.

Project is part of a recent wave of talent hunts sparked by the success of Fox’s “American Idol.” CBS is producing a new version of “Star Search” (which will include a comedy competition), while NBC just picked up a series that will try to find the next big action thesp (Daily Variety, Sept. 12).

Mohr’s repped by ICM, Katz and Debby Klein, while Fox is repped by Don Buchwald & Associates.

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