Sitcom based on hit Australian program

NBC is starting to make good on its “no more pilots” mantra, picking up laffer “Kath & Kim” to series even before a single frame has been shot.

Peacock has ordered six episodes of the show, which will start production once the writers strike is over. Move comes soon after NBC Universal topper Jeff Zucker started telling the press and industry leaders that the net would dramatically scale back on pilot production, which is generally not considered cost-effective (Daily Variety, Jan. 24).

NBC isn’t picking up “Kath & Kim” completely blind, however. The show is adapted from a hit Australian sitcom of the same name, which means execs at the Peacock already have a good idea of what it will look like.

NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios co-chairman Ben Silverman said the pickup “exemplifies how we are changing the pilot process by ordering shows that we believe in and greenlighting them straight to series. We are confident that this proven international hit will effortlessly translate to American audiences.”

“Kath & Kim” stars Molly Shannon as Kath, a fortysomething divorcee, and Selma Blair as her self-absorbed daughter Kim.

Direct-to-series pickups are rare these days but not unprecedented. Pilot-less series orders became more common in the mid-1990s as high-powered showrunners and stars stipulated series orders in their contracts. The practice died out by the end of the decade, however.

Reveille and Universal Media Studios are behind “Kath & Kim,” which will be exec produced and written by Michelle Nader. Paul Feig is aboard to direct the first episode and also will exec produce alongside original Australia “Kath & Kim” creators and stars Gina Riley and Jane Turner plus Oz version exec producer Rick McKenna.

“While we are incredibly motivated to shifting our process to series orders, we are treating our development on a case by case basis,” said NBC Entertainment exec VP Teri Weinberg. “‘Kath & Kim’ is a proven hit in Australia, and with creative auspices which include Molly Shannon and Selma Blair, this was an easy decision. Ordering Kath & Kim straight to series reflects our confidence in and committment to this show. “

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