It seems Neil Patrick Harris can cross one more thing off his bucket list: The newly minted Oscar host has partnered with NBC to develop a variety show based on “Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway,” the long-running program that airs on the U.K.’s ITV.
“As I watched the show, I couldn’t stop smiling. Now that I’ve seen many seasons, my face hurts. It’s a game changer,” said Harris. “Nothing like this has been done before, and its unique structure fits right into my random skill set. I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and have some fun!”
NBC has ordered 10 episodes from ITV Studios America, all of which will be filmed in front of a live audience. The show will feature comedy sketches, musical numbers, mini game shows, hidden camera pranks on celebrities and appearances by A-list stars. But the show will not have the same name or air day (perhaps because of the similarities to NBC’s already established “Saturday Night Live”?). CBS and ABC were also interested in the project, but bowed out as the pricetag skyrocketed.
“All of us here at NBC have been dying to work with Neil, as we’ve watched him brilliantly host the Tonys and Emmys,” said Paul Telegdy, NBC Entertainment’s alternative and latenight programming president. “This series will suit his extraordinary talents perfectly. He is a versatile and thrilling talent for us to welcome into the NBC family.”
The series will be produced by ITV Studios America. Harris, ITV Studios America president Orly Adelson, Siobhan Greene and U.K. hosts Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly will serve as executive producers. The deal was brokered by CAA and WME. The “Saturday Night Takeaway” format is distributed internationally by ITV Studios Global Entertainment.
“The ‘Saturday Night Takeaway’ format is already popular in many countries, including the U.K., Germany, Portugal, Italy and Belgium. We are delighted that its expansion to the U.S. includes the multi-talented star Neil Patrick Harris,” said Paul Buccieri, chairman of ITV Studios U.S. Group and Global Entertainment.
Adelson added, “We are excited to be launching this series with NBC as the series represents the perfect marriage of an incredible talent with the right format to create the ultimate variety show.”
Last spring, actor-singer-magician Harris told Howard Stern that he’d pitched the idea of doing a variety show to CBS. This was around the time that the Eye, which had just wrapped Harris’ “How I Met Your Mother,” was looking for a replacement for David Letterman. It was also around this time that NBC garnered solid ratings and buzz for airing a variety show hosted by “SNL” alum Maya Rudolph.
The news of this deal was first reported by Vulture.