Cabler pushes comedy in variety of formats
At IFC, there can’t be too many kooks in the kitchen.The cabler’s new development slate of eight programs expands the cabler’s foray into comedy, in a range of formats including scripted, unscripted and animation. Thom Beers (“Deadliest Catch”), Alan Spencer (“Sledge Hammer!”), David Wain (“Childrens Hospital”) and Reveille Prods. are some of those behind the latest batch of shows — some in unexpected ways. For example, Beers, known for a reality resume that includes “Ice Road Truckers,” is developing “Whisker Wars,” a docu series that follows competitors on the competitive facial hair-growing circuit, from the National Beard and Mustache Championships in Bend, Ore., to the global title showdown in Norway. (Beers is exec producing with Philip D. Segal through FremantleMedia-owned Original Prods.) Although the beard enthusiasts take their battles extremely seriously, IFC senior veep of original programming Debbie DeMontreux said that the premise is inherently suited for IFC’s “Always On. Slightly Off” brand. “The common denominator in all of these shows is that they’re all comedy-based,” DeMontreux said. “Our mission is to create alternative comedies that have an indie perspective, that are sharp, cool, twisted shows and really desire to live in the comedy world in many genres.” Similarly, another nonfiction project, “Hero House,” features a group of so-called real-life superheroes from around the U.S. who team up to do good in a trouble city. Peter Franchella, Aaron Rothman and Al Szymanski are exec producing for Red Line Films. A third nonfiction show in development, currently untitled, comes from Reveille and features comedians and online filmmakers Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal as they travel to small towns throughout the U.S. to produce commercials for local businesses using local talent. Howard T. Owens, Todd Cohen and Fernando Mills are also exec producing. In addition, IFC is developing animated comedy prospects “Cartoon Show” and “Hard ‘N Phirm’s Musical Timehole.” “Cartoon Show,” exec produced by Wain, Ken Marino, Jonathan Stern, Aaron Augenblick and Chris Burns (the latter two are the show’s creators), goes behind the scenes, “30 Rock”-style, to depict a large cast of nonhuman cartoon characters trying to produce a daily variety TV show. “Hard ‘N Phirm’s Musical Timehole,” meanwhile, sends its protags through time to help famous figures from history solve crises through song. Chris Hardwick and Mike Phirman are the brains behind the project; Divya Srinivasan is designing the characters. IFC, which just completed a season’s worth of original series “The Increasingly Poor Adventures of Todd Margaret” (no decision yet on renewal) and has Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s “Portlandia” on tap for January, hasn’t neglected the scripted side in its latest development. “Chosen Guns” is a mock police procedural from Principato-Young Entertainment (“Reno 911″), exec produced by Brennan Shroff and Lonny Ross (“30 Rock”) with Pat Proft (“Police Academy”) a consulting producer. That project is complemented by Spencer’s untitled action series about a psychotic criminal juggling his need to be violent with his social life. Michael Prupas and Bruce Hills are also exec producing. Then there’s “Greg and Donny,” a single-cam comedy about two lifelong friends in a small Pennsylvania town, based on the Web series from Matt Yeager and Jeff Skowron that won IFC’s 2010 Out of the Box award at the New York Television Festival for the most innovative or genre-expanding pilot in competition. DeMontreux said IFC is content with Fridays as its destination night for original series as well as acquisitions, including “Arrested Development” and “Freaks and Geeks.”
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