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Comedy Central Bows 'The Commies'

Comedy Central will throw its hat into the awards show arena this December.

Comedy Central Presents the Commies, premiering Dec. 7, will feature awards in more than 15 comedy-based categories, including "The Funniest Person of the Year," according to Comedy Central senior vice president of original programming and head of development Lauren Corrao.

"When you look at all the awards shows, there are very few that focus primarily on comedy, especially comedy movies, stand-up and the Internet," she said. "Since we are Comedy Central, we felt that we should celebrate that which we know is so difficult to do well."

But much like the recent wave of awards shows, Corrao said The Commies
will feature more entertainment content than actual awards presentations.

"[Other award show's] emphasis isn't so much on the 300 awards that seemed to be given away, but on the entertainment factor built into the show itself," she said.

Corrao wouldn't project how well the show would perform, but said she's encouraged by the ratings generated by recent event specials on the network. In particular, she pointed to the network's Aug. 10 The Comedy Central Roast of Denis Leary, which drew 3.25 million viewers, making it the most-watched non-South Park
program in the channel's history.

"I think viewers look forward to larger-scale programming from us, and hopefully, with the comedy built into the show and the celebrities we can attract by awarding them some substantial awards in comedy, there will be a very compelling reason for the viewers to tune in," she said.

Still, event programming will remain only a small part of the overall programming strategy for the 83 million-subscriber channel. Corrao said Comedy Central will remain focused on its series programming, which includes such ratings stalwarts as South Park, freshman series Reno 911
and two new animated shows —Kid Notorious, based on the life of Robert Evans and Drawn Together, a pseudo-reality series featuring many classic cartoon characters.

"There's still a very strong focus on series programming, and we've launched several successful series this year, including Chappelle's Show
and Reno 911," Corrao said.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.