Upfronts 2015: IFC Greenlights ‘Gigi’

IFC has greenlit Gigi’s Bucket List, adding another slightly off comedy to its lineup just before upfront negotiations with sponsors begin.

The series stars David Krumholtz as 76-year-old widow Gertrude Rotblum, also known as Gigi, who discovers her husband’s secret bank account and decides it is time to live life and try new things.

The series is part of an expansion of original programming that has been driving ratings, says IFC senior VP of ad sales Vanessa Benfield, who describes the networks’ viewers as “responsible rebels.” Those folks floss every day, have good jobs, pay their bills and don’t stink. “They don’t wait around for cool stuff, they go out and get it,” she said, adding that they’re not hipsters. Nor are they sheep.

The show would also seem to be a natural for product placements and integration. That’s no coincident. IFC has been selling commercials for only five years. Before that it did sponsorships and integrations and it remains skilled in creating branded content.

Brands including Subaru and Zillow have been integrated into IFC’s top show, Portlandia. But the network doesn’t even need shows to sell sponsorships. One stunt this season features two guys talking about a movie and how it would have been better if they’d been in it. Another is called Unboxing the Holiday, with lots of space for “your brand here.”

New in this year’s upfront are features called “IFC High Five,” in which brands can give deserving people recognition; "Word of the Day,” with definitions that can fit any product category and the Slightly Off Escape.

“We’re really an amazing, well-oiled machine here. Our programming team has aligned their development cycle with our sales cycle so that when we’re out in the marketplace, they’re giving us fresh new concepts so that by the time we close on deals we’ve got time to integrate them into the upcoming series,” says Kim Granito, VP of integrated marketing at IFC.

Gigi is set to begin shooting in June in Los Angeles. The network expects it to premiere later this year.

Krumholtz, who has previous starred in This Is The End and Numb3rs, says playing an old woman isn’t a stretch for him.

“This character has been living inside me since birth. Friends have often accused me of acting like a grandma,” he said. “It's an absolute privilege to be bringing Gigi to life for IFC, known for their irreverent brand of comedy and willingness to explore depth of character.”

Gigi is produced by Grandma’s House Entertainment for IFC. Krumholtz is an executive producer along with Tim Gibbons.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.