Pay cabler has already committed to another season

As HBO raises the curtain tonight on latenight sketch comedy “Funny or Die Presents,” the cabler has already committed to a sophomore season of the show.

HBO initially ordered 10 segs of the half-hour skein, inspired in part by material from the Funny or Die comedy website run by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Chris Henchy. But they wound up shooting so much material that they delivered 12 segs for the first season, which bows tonight at midnight. The sophomore season order stands at 10 episodes, at least for now.

The first batch of episodes features sketches with such familiar Funny or Die faces as Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, John C. Reilly, David Spade and Fred Willard, as well as such thesps as Don Cheadle. The series is hosted by Ed Haligan, veep of sales and marketing for Funny or Die.

The episodes were produced on a modest budget, by TV standards, and each seg involved a range of production companies, talent and directors, which made it a logistical challenge to piece the elements together, said Andrew Steele, the “Saturday Night Live” alum who is creative director of Funny or Die.

Recruiting talent for the show was easy, once they let it be known that the (almost) anything-goes spirit of the website extends to the HBO show.

“Once we’ve decided on a project, there’s no development after that. I just let people go play and have fun,” Steele told Daily Variety. “I’m mainly dealing with comedians that we already trust. We let them go off and make what they want, and they’ll go the extra mile to make it as good as they can.”

Steele, Ferrell, McKay and Henchy are exec producers of “Funny or Die Presents.” HBO has a small equity stake in the Funny or Die website, whose partners also include Judd Apatow.

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