IFC feeling like funny ‘Network’

Cabler mixing more TV comedy with indie films

IFC is going to be a little less “IF” going forward, with a programming slate that will fill the “C” with several scripted comedy options.

The cabler known for specializing in independent film is tubthumping such series as the half-hour “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret,” starring “Arrested Development” alums Will Arnett and David Cross scheduled to premiere this fall.

“The network has undergone a rebrand,” IFC exec veep and g.m. Jennifer Caserta said. “The slightly off-kilter truly represents the essence of the perspective we’re bringing to our programming.”

IFC also has greenlit “Onion News Network,” based on the popular print- and Web-based spoof paper, and acquired “Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town,” the reunion series from the famed sketch comedy troupe that ran on Canadian television last year.

A new branding tagline emphasizes IFC’s direction: “Always On. Slightly Off.” Caserta said that despite all the change, what remains constant is the network’s commitment to the unconventional.

“That was something that was borne out of independent film,” she said, “that indie perspective

is off-kilter and not quite cookie-cutter and mainstream. When we started to embark in other areas … comedy turned out to be a really important part of the equation.

“‘Office Space’ is indicative of where our audience is headed. That is a film that we could play over and over again, and our audience would never get sick of it.”

IFC has been showing reruns of “Arrested Development” and “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” but the new programming orders reflect a much deeper commitment to TV comedy.

Cross is co-writing all six episodes of “Todd Margaret” with Shaun Pye (“Extras”) and plays the title role, a pathological liar who stumbles into a high-level corporate job in London working under Arnett’s character. Spike Jonze and Amber Tamblyn have already been locked in as guests. IFC is co-producing with RDF Television.

“Onion News Network” has an order for 10 half-hour episodes, exec produced by Julie Smith and Will Graham, and scheduled for an early 2011 launch.

“Death Comes to Town” is a comedy murder-mystery told in eight 30-minute segs, written by and featuring all five original members of the “KITH” troupe playing more than 20 characters. Bruce McCulloch exec produced.

IFC also acquired “Dead Set,” a five-episode zombie horror parody set on eviction night at the U.K.’s “Big Brother” house, premiering in October. Written by Charlie Brooker, “Dead Set” was produced by Endemol with Zeppotron.

No timeslots have been picked for the upcoming shows, though Caserta notes that the channel’s original series typically air in the 10 p.m. hour Fridays, Sundays and Tuesdays.

IFC has six additional shows in development, including “I Love the A.D.’s” (a parody animated series focusing on a twentysomething Jesus figuring out his life plan), female sketch comedy series “Variety Shac,” Greg Behrendt-hosted talkshow “There Might Be Cake,” and nonscripted but irreverent travelogue “Young, Broke and Beautiful.”

While some might wonder if those who come to IFC for films will feel lost amid all the options, much like those who wondered where all the videos on MTV went, Caserta said indie pics are “still vital” to the network.

“We’re going to schedule independent films; we’re still going to take great pride in how we curate them,” she said. “We like to showcase what I call — it’s an oxymoron — blockbuster indies.

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