Dark Toy shinge fielding 2 pilots, ready to spread wings

Karey Burke and Todd Holland’s Dark Toy Entertainment is staying put at Universal TV with a new two-year overall deal. The producing partners are looking forward to casting a wider net for development now that Universal TV is focused on producing for non-NBCUniversal nets as well.

Burke, a former top NBC creative exec, and Holland, a seasoned helmer-producer, quickly became two of the Peacock’s go-to producers after they set up shop there in 2010 under the exec regime that preceded Comcast’s acquisition of NBCU. Last year they developed some 13 projects for NBC and got the oddball laffer “Free Agents” ordered to series.

Under the new direction for the studio laid out by NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt and Universal TV exec veep Bela Bajaria, Dark Toy is eager to play the field a little more. “We love the opportunity and the challenge of being able to bring things elsewhere,” Burke told Variety.

“As a pod it makes you more appealing to writers when you can go anywhere,” Holland added.

That said, the shingle remains committed to finding a next-generation hit for NBC. Burke and Holland partnered with producer Aaron Kaplan to develop family comedy “Isabel” early in the development cycle (the pilot finished shooting in early February) in order to allow them to produce one more pilot, which turned out to be ensembler “Go On,” from scribe Scott Silveri.

“The combination of Todd’s creative vision and Karey’s experience as producer and an executive make them a winning combination,” said Bajaria of Dark Toy’s new pact.

“Isabel,” based on a Canuck series, is a domestic vehicle told from the perspective of a teen’s visits to her psychologist. Burke said NBC’s interest in the project, penned by Howard Busgang and Tom Nursall, is a telling sign of the net’s appetite for unconventional fare. “When we first read the ‘Isabel’ script we thought it was so brilliant and so unique, I said, ‘I’m not sure if this is for NBC,’?” Burke said. “I’m so heartened that they took a chance on the material. We love their renewed enthusiasm to get back on top.”

As a helmer, Holland said he’s happy to have NBC as his home base. He directed “Isabel” and “Go On,” which stars Matthew Perry as a sportscaster trying to move on after loss with the help of group therapy. Dark Toy’s goal for the next development cycle is to field a drama pilot or two.

“The great thing about NBC right now is that they’re very smart people,” Holland said. “They’re grabbing smart scripts and smart ideas. I pray that works in the marketplace, because that’s who we are.”

Dark Toy’s repped by WME.

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