Gervais and Merchant will co-write laffer
HBO has landed Ricky Gervais’ first post-“Office” series project.Paybox has pacted with the BBC to produce “Extras,” a comedy from Gervais and “The Office” co-creator Stephen Merchant. Six-episode skein will star Gervais as bitter, struggling actor Andy Millman, who quits his day job to pursue Hollywood full-time but can’t seem to land the big parts. Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Stiller, Kate Winslet and Patrick Stewart have cameo roles, and Merchant makes his onscreen debut as Millman’s agent. Gervais and Merchant will write and direct the series, with BBC head of comedy entertainment Jon Plowman exec producing. “Extras” is already in production and will bow this summer on BBC2. HBO entertainment president Carolyn Strauss has not yet firmed up the U.S. premiere date but said the show could debut later this year. “We’re looking for where we can optimize it. This is a very exciting opportunity for us, and we’re going to take advantage of it,” she said. Gervais said: “It’s an honor to be on the same network that gave us ‘The Sopranos.’ They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.” HBO most recently partnered with the BBC on “Rome,” the epic drama bowing on the cabler in the fall, and the films “Dirty War” and “The Gathering Storm.” “The Office” picked up a pair of Golden Globe awards last year, including the prize for best TV comedy series — a first for a non-American skein. Gervais took actor in a comedy for his performance as insufferable boss David Brent. A Stateside revision of “The Office” from NBC Universal TV Studio, Reveille and 3 Arts airs on NBC.