NBC is ready to get back into business with both “30 Rock” producers Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, as well as “The Office” co-star Ellie Kemper.
The network announced on Thursday (October 31) that it has given a 13-episode series order to an untitled single-cam comedy from Fey and Carlock, with Kemper set to star. The project will premiere on NBC in fall 2014.
All involved parties are very excited about the early series order.
“Tina and Robert, who cemented their partnership on ’30 Rock,” have created a new signature comedy for us that is audacious, emotional, and clever,” blurbs Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment. “While tapping into very relatable themes, there isn”t anything like this anywhere else on television. NBC has been their home for many years and we”re so happy that they”ve found another way to push the comedy envelope for us.”
Adds NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke, “Original voices like Tina and Robert don”t come along very often and we wanted them back on the air as soon as possible. And to have them working with Ellie Kemper – who we watched grow up on ‘The Office” from supporting player to leading actress – puts the whole package together. We feel fortunate to be in business with this entire creative team on something so funny, unique, and attention-getting.”
The comedy will feature Kemper (“Bridesmaids”) as a woman who escapes a doomsday cult and starts her life over in New York City.
Fey and Carlock will write on the series and they will also executive produce along with David Miner. And yes, of course they had a statement as well.
“We have been lucky enough to work at NBC for our entire careers (except when Robert worked at ‘The Dana Carvey Show,’ now available on DVD) and we thank Bob and Jen for their continued support,” Fey and Carlock state.
This pre-pilot series order is the latest in a trend that how now pretty much run amuck this development season, as networks have had to make larger and larger commitments to projects to win the hot pilots.
This is, in fact, the second Fey/Carlock production to get a straight-series order, following a women’s college multicam that will be written by “30 Rock” vet Matt Hubbard. [A third Fey-Carlock production, to be written by Colleen McGuinness, is still in contention at NBC, though apparently it’s being put through the traditional development pipeline.]
In addition to that Fey/Carlock comedy, FOX has a trio of early orders, with “Mulaney,” which shot a pilot for NBC but will reshoot before premiering next year, the Commissioner Gordon-centric DC Comics adaptation “Gotham” and the high-concept “Hieroglyph.” Even the more traditional CBS has gotten in on the early order action with David Shore and Vince Gilligan’s “Battle Creek” and the summer drama “Extant,” starring Halle Berry.”
So far, all of the series orders have been for a restrained 13 episodes. Last fall, NBC was so hot to bring Michael J. Fox back to primetime that the network gave the “Family Ties” star a guaranteed 22 episode order. The most recent episode of “The Michael J. Fox Show” brought NBC under 3.75 million viewers and a 1.2 rating among adults 18-49.
As I said on last week’s Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, I think the trend makes sense in certain cases. Fey & Carlock are a brand, even if we don’t know how well the brand will play without Fey as leading lady. “Mulaney” also makes some sense, because comedy at FOX is totally disposable and nothing does ratings, so if you believe in something, there’s zero harm in ordering it to series if you want to make a point. “Gotham” has Batman associations if not Batman, so that’s not a huge risk. And if you want Vince Gilligan, you’ve gotta pony up these days. “Hieroglyph” feels like a disaster to me, at least as a series-without-a-pilot gamble.
The oddest part about the trend, which theoretically allows networks to cut out most costly parts of the development process, is that according to trade reports, networks are also still ordering more pilot scripts and pilots than in recent years, adding more costs to the development process. I guess we should all be relieved that CBS isn’t going straight-to-series on the pointlessly gestating “How I Met Your Mother” spinoff.
Nope. This system isn’t broken at all!
Are you excited for Fey, Carlock and Kemper’s respective NBC returns?