Carey, pals on WB ‘Screen’

Comic pacts with Acme Filmworks for project

HOLLYWOOD — “Whose Line Is It Anyway” master of ceremonies Drew Carey has gathered his buddies to shoot “The Green Screen,” a pilot for the WB that mixes improvisational comedy with animation.

Carey came up with the notion of doing improv in front of a green screen, which then allows animators to go back in post-production and draw in backgrounds and props.

“The idea is to bring to life all of the things that come to mind in improv,” Carey said. “I got the idea while performing at the Improv” — where Carey and pals frequently hit the stage together.

The comedian pacted with Acme Filmworks to handle the show’s animation. The Hollywood-based studio will be charged with adding a wide variety of 2-D, 3-D, CG, stop-motion and even clay-oriented animation to the improv scenes.

Carey and Acme’s Ron Diamond are on board as exec producers. Carey and his “Improv All-Stars” — including Ryan Stiles, Kathy Kinney, Colin Mochrie, Greg Proops, Brad Sherwood, Sean Masterson, Kaitlin Olson and John Mangum — shot scenes for the pilot last Thursday.

“Drew is the kind of guy who, even in his conventional sitcom, was an out-of-the-box thinker,” WB comedy development co-exec veep Mike Clements said. “He pitched it out and in five minutes we bought it. It was one of the last things we picked up, but because there was no script, we were able to go right into production.”

Should “The Green Screen” be picked up to series, the improvisational nature of the show will allow the performers to shoot several episodes in a short period of time. That may allow for a greater variety of guest stars and would give Carey and company time to pursue other gigs at the same time.

But post-production on “The Green Screen” will actually take longer than on most comedies given the lengthy animation process.

“We can do the improv part quick, easy and cheap,” Carey said. “You can tape eight shows of improv over one weekend. But the animation gets expensive and time consuming. Turnaround on the show will take about 12 weeks.”

With “The Drew Carey Show” ending its run this summer, Carey said he’s now content to focus on touring and performing improv around the country.

“I’ve never had more fun or satisfaction doing anything in my life,” he said. “Touring is so much fun and rewarding.”

Carey produced about 180 episodes of “Whose Line,” which became a key utility player for ABC (and still regularly airs on ABC Family). WB is looking for the same kind of potential workhorse in “Green Screen.”

The project also fits in with the Frog’s attempt at trying different kinds of half-hour comedies. Net already ordered eight episodes of the Jeff Foxworthy-led “Blue Collar TV” sketch show.

“It speaks to comedy being a very difficult genre right now,” Clements said. “You have to take different shots as they’re presented to you.”

UTA, which reps Carey, packaged “The Green Screen.”

(Josef Adalian contributed to this report.)

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