Comedy Central is high on improv, greenlighting half-hour narrative “American Body Shop” from tyro scribe Sam Greene and renewing improv stalwart “Reno 911!” for a fifth season.
In addition, laff net has ordered production on the series pilot “Not Another High School Show,” a spoof of teen TV dramas from Sony Pictures TV and exec producers Mike Bender, Neal Moritz and Joel Gallen (“Not Another Teen Movie”).
Comedy Central has ordered 10 episodes of “Body Shop” after an unsolicited pilot presentation funded by, directed by and starring Greene — and addressed “To Whom It May Concern” — made its way from reception into the hands of network executives.
Development senior VP Lou Wallach screened the tape and shortly thereafter sent it to Comedy Central exec VP of programming and development Lauren Corrao, who said she was surprised at how well written and funny the show was.
“Most of the unsolicited things we look at are really rough. When I saw this show, I knew there was definitely something there,” Corrao said. “Even though some of the casting wasn’t great and the story spiraled out of control a bit, I remember laughing hysterically as I was watching.”
Greene, who will produce with veteran producer Jim Jones (“The Ben Stiller Show”), said he had all but given up on writing after 20 years of trying to break into the industry.
“I sent the tape in on a lark. Three months later, Lou called and told me they wanted to work on it,” Greene said. He and Jones rewrote and reshot the pilot with extra coin from Comedy Central. Jones directed the pilot.
Premise for the series sprang from Greene’s friends, who initially suggested he shoot a reality show in their auto body shop. “I thought that sounded awful,” he said, but he saw enough material to shoot a comedy set in such a place.
Shot in the same loosely scripted/improvised fashion as “Reno 911!,” “Body Shop” revolves around Sam, a twice-divorced entrepreneur whose shop is run by eccentrics. Pilot opens with Sam scrambling to get the business in shape after an insurance rep threatens to revoke his policy.
“American Body Shop” will premiere next summer.
Renewal for “Reno 911!” arrives after a fourth-season growth spurt in adults 18-49. More important, the series helped Comedy Central open up Sunday nights to original programming this summer.
Remaining seven season-four episodes will roll out in April. Fifth season will debut either immediately after or later in fourth-quarter 2007.
“Reno 911!,” a Nevada-set spoof of “Cops,” stars and is exec produced by Robert Ben Garant, Kerri Kenney-Silver and Thomas Lennon. John Landgraf, Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher also exec produce.
Meanwhile, casting is under way for “Not Another High School Show.” Corrao said producers are looking for fresh-faced unknowns to fill the roles of the archetypal teen characters.
“It’s a dead-on parody of everything from ‘Happy Days’ to ‘Beverly Hills, 90210,’ ‘Dawson’s Creek’ and ‘Laguna Beach,’ ” said Corrao, adding that airings of the similar spoof “Not Another Teen Movie” continue to do well for the cabler. “We need kids who get it.”