Complete Coverage: Upfronts 2016
Comedy Central says it has picked up five new series, ten new specials and ordered eleven pilots.
The Viacom-owned network is working to freshen its lineup after a year in which its signature late night block turned over as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert left and were replaced by Trevor Noah and Larry Wilmore.
Comedy Central will be presenting its programming plans to media buyers at an upfront event in New York Thursday afternoon. Earlier this week, the network announced programming plans for its Snapchat Discover channels and pickups of current series.
"As anyone can see, we are continuing our tradition of collaborating with the smartest, funniest talent – both established and emerging, and in front of or behind the camera – to develop content across every imaginable platform, whether through long form, short form or ephemeral form, that is always bound by a strong, distinctive point of view," Kent Alterman, president of original programming at Comedy Central said. "Otherwise, the announcement speaks for itself."
Comedy Central series and special orders have been handed out to:
* Jordan Klepper – The Daily Show with Trevor Noah correspondent Jordan Klepper will star in a special revolving around social, cultural and political issues.
* Kevin Hart's Hartbeat Productions – Hart will produce and star in two original, stand-up series.
* Jeff Ross – Ross will bring the popular Roast Battles from the comedy club to the screen and follow up his acclaimed special Jeff Ross Roasts Criminals with Jeff Ross Roasts the Police.
* Untitled Comedy Documentaries – Comedy Central is making an unprecedented commitment to a series of cutting edge comedy documentaries that will offer a specific and unique take on compelling stories from the world of comedy – a project conceived for the network by Emmy-nominated Drunk History and Another Period executive producer and director, Jeremy Konner, and Pentimento Productions documentary producer Emma Pildes.
* Stand-up Specials – Kurt Braunohler, Deon Cole, Pete Davidson, Joe DeRosa, Trevor Moore, Big Jay Oakerson, Dan Soder and The Goddamn Comedy Jam.
* "Typical Rick" – a digital series from creators Nick Swardson and filmmaker Nicholaus Goossen, which will star Swardson and Simon Rex.
* The network has also signed Jessica Williams and Jordan Klepper to independent development deals, with Williams co-writing, producing and starring in a half-hour scripted narrative pilot and Klepper producing and starring in a late night talk show presentation.
* Production deals include projects from Amy Schumer, Chris Hardwick, Channing Tatum, Olivia Wilde, Jack Black, Eva Longoria, Ed Helms, Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone, along with Abominable Pictures, Above Average, Funny Or Die, Gloria Sanchez Productions, and Serious Business, among others.
Here's a complete list of the programming announcements from Comedy Central:
Series and Specials Greenlights:
* "Kevin Hart Presents: Hart of the City" - produced by Hartbeat Productions, this eight-episode series follows Kevin Hart as he travels to different cities to explore the local comedy scenes in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Birmingham, Miami and Sacramento. In this series, executive produced by Hart, Dave Becky of 3 Arts Entertainment,
Leland "Pookey" Wigington and Michele Armour, Hart will introduce some of the newest voices in comedy today. Jonas Larsen and JoAnn Grigioni are the Executives in Charge for Comedy Central.
* Untitled Kevin Hart Stand-Up Series - also produced by Hartbeat Productions, this stand-up series features six half-hour episodes of stand-up where Kevin Hart will spotlight one up-and-coming comedian each episode. Executive produced by Hart, Dave Becky of 3 Arts Entertainment and Leland "Pookey" Wigington. Jonas Larsen and JoAnn Grigioni are the Executives in Charge of Production for Comedy Central.
* "Jeff Ross Presents Roast Battle" - this new competition comedy special features a no-holds-barred verbal boxing match where comedians go head-to-head in a battle of wit and insults. Led by the Roastmaster General, Jeff Ross, and the referee/comedian, Brian Moses, this Fight Club of comedy is presented in a bracket style competition where two comics in each round face off, roast each other and a winner is declared by a celebrity panel of judges. This unique comedy competition is a true clash of the sharpest, funniest, roast comics on the planet. Welcome to the Thunderdome of comedy! Executive produced by Ross, Joel Gallen, Amy Zvi, Willie Mercer, Moses and Rell Battle. Jonas Larsen, Christian McLaughlin, Jordan Ellner and Ryan Moran are the Executives in Charge of Production for Comedy Central.
* "Jeff Ross Roasts the Police" - Freeze, you're under a-roast! America's Roastmaster General, Jeff Ross, steps into some burning national issues and rides along in the hottest seat in town in his new one-hour special. Following on the heels of his celebrated roast of inmates and guards at the Brazos County Jail, this special finds Jeff looking at the complicated national issues surrounding policing; from race, profiling and excessive force to the risks officers take every day and the effect that police work has on their lives, families and health. To understand what it means to be a cop in America today, Ross steps behind the thin blue line for a ride-along/Roast-along with a cross section of officers from a major, metropolitan police force. Along the way, Jeff meets with perps, anti-police activists, newly-minted cadets and seasoned top brass. Executive produced by Ross, Nick McKinney, Meghan O'Hara, Stu Miller, Amy Zvi and Willie Mercer. Jonas Larsen and Christian McLaughlin are the Executives in Charge of Production for Comedy Central.
* Untitled Comedy Documentaries - Comedy Central is making an unprecedented commitment to a series of cutting edge comedy documentaries that will offer a specific and unique take on compelling stories from the world of comedy - a project conceived for the network by Emmy(r)-nominated "Drunk History" and "Another Period" executive producer and director, Jeremy Konner, and Pentimento Productions documentary Producer Emma Pildes. The network is partnering with Konner and the award-winning team at Susan Lacy's Pentimento Productions -- Emma Pildes, Jessica Levin and the legendary documentarian Susan Lacy -- creator and former executive producer of the multiple award-winning PBS cultural biography series "American Masters." Comedy Central will invite notable comedy talent, writers, producers and directors to tell a specific story that is personal, unique and anchored in comedy. Each documentary will have its own look, feel and sensibility based on the storyteller's personal perspective. These new stories will be surprising, funny and will use a visual language to give each film a singular identity.
* "Typical Rick" - this five-episode, digital series stars Nick Swardson as "Gary" and Simon Rex as "Rick," best friends from the Midwest who move to Hollywood in an attempt to chase their dreams...well, "Gary's" dreams. Unfortunately for this odd couple, "Rick" turns out to be the worst "plus one" in history, constantly imploding any chance of success with the same inappropriate party-guy antics he's displayed their whole lives. Created by Swardson and filmmaker Nicholaus Goossen, who will also direct, "Typical Rick" filters life in Los Angeles through their unique voice. Jordan Ellner, Rachel Olson and Natalie Gergely are the Executives in Charge of Production for Comedy Central.
* Untitled Jordan Klepper Special - "Daily Show" correspondent Jordan Klepper brings his unique point-of-view to this special that focuses on social, cultural and political issues. Executive produced by Klepper and Kirsten Ames. Sarah Babineau and Ari Pearce are the Executives in Charge of Production for Comedy Central.
* Untitled Goddamn Comedy Jam Special - An Ugly Brothers Studios production, this one-hour special is executive produced by Joel Gallen, Josh Adam Meyers and Mike and Tim Duffy. Based on the hit underground live show called The Goddamn Comedy Jam, it's the intersection of comedy genius and rock & roll dreams featuring five stand-up comedians telling funny, poignant and ridiculous stories that have an association with an iconic hit song. After each story, the comedians sing their song live backed by the Comedy Jam Band. Jonas Larsen, Gary Mann and Ryan Moran are the Executives in Charge of Production for Comedy Central.
* Untitled Pete Davidson Stand-up Special - "SNL" cast member, Pete Davidson, will shoot his first one-hour stand-up special at the Skirball Center in NYC on April 30. Executive produced by Davidson, Tim Sarkes, and Joel Gallen, who will direct. Andrew Singer and Erin Doyle will serve as consulting producers for Broadway Video. Anne Harris and Miro Terrell are the Executives in Charge of Production for Comedy Central.
* "Deon Cole: Cole Blooded Seminar" - Deon Cole gets it poppin' in Washington DC's Lincoln Theatre in his first one-hour stand-up special. The "Conan" writer and co-star of "Black-ish" explains what's thicker than cold peanut butter, knowing when better looking dudes are around, how to manage his blackness and more. Executive produced by Cole, Kirsten Ames and Pupcake Productions' Neal Marshall. JoAnn Grigioni is the Executive in Charge of Production for Comedy Central.
* "Big Jay Oakerson Live at Webster Hall" - "Big" Jay Oakerson makes his one-hour special debut on Comedy Central. Filmed at the legendary New York City music venue provides the perfect heavy metal comedy vibe for Jay's special. Jay's comedy is raw, compelling and honest to the core, as he takes viewers on a journey of brutal truths about his relationship with his daughter, sexual tension between he and his best friend Dave and offers advice to women on how to delicately handle men with an unfortunate penis size. Big Jay's comedy special will bring couples together, tear them apart or just make them laugh. Executive produced by Oakerson, Cris Italia, David Kimowitz and Tony Hernandez. Christian McLaughlin and Miro Terrell are the Executives in Charge of Production for Comedy Central.
* "Dan Soder: Not Special" - filmed at the historic Trocadero Theater in Philadelphia, Dan Soder's first stand-up special offers up his smart, unpretentious take on fancy potheads, tech-savvy two-year olds, only children, and his new way to release tension. He also thinks his "Nana" is better than yours. "Dan Soder: Not Special" is executive produced by Soder, Brian Stern, and Neal Marshall. JoAnn Grigioni and Miro Terrell are the Executives in Charge of Production for Comedy Central.
* Untitled Kurt Braunohler Stand-up Special - Comedian, sky writer, and master of the absurd, Kurt Braunohler, will shoot his first one-hour stand-up special this fall. It is executive produced by Braunohler and Avalon. Anne Harris is the Executive in Charge of Production for Comedy Central.
* Untitled Joe DeRosa Stand-up Special - Joe DeRosa will shoot his first one-hour stand-up special this fall. Ryan Moran is the Executive in Charge of Production for Comedy Central.* Untitled Trevor Moore Stand-up Special - In his second one hour special, Trevor Moore will use music and sketch to talk about a large variety of topics (but mostly about a girl named Krystal who would never talk to him in high school). Jonas Larsen, JoAnn Grigioni and Jordan Ellner are the Executives in Charge of Production for Comedy Central.
Pilot and Script Development (all titles listed are working titles)
* Untitled Jessica Williams Project - "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" correspondent brings her unique point-of-view to a narrative scripted pilot executive produced and written by Williams with Naomi Ekperigin. Williams, a writer and performer out of the Upright Citizens Brigade in Los Angeles, joined "The Daily Show" in 2012 as their youngest correspondent. She had a recurring role in the third season of HBO's "Girls" and appeared in the Sundance comedy, "People Places Things." Williams was also named one of Variety's "Top 10 Comics to Watch" in 2012 and was included on Variety's 2015 New York Women's Impact Report.
* Untitled Jordan Klepper Project - "Daily Show" correspondent Jordan Klepper has signed a development deal with Comedy Central for a late night talk show presentation. Executive produced by Klepper and Kirsten Ames. Klepper joined "The Daily Show" in 2014 after years at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City. He also worked as a writer and contributor on the Big Ten Network show, "Friday Night Tailgate," "Charlamagne & Friends," and as a contributing writer on HBO's "Ferrell Takes the Field."
* Untitled Rachel Feinstein Project -this half-hour pilot starring Rachel Feinstein features hidden camera segments where Feinstein goes undercover to perform social experiments that tackle a different issue or theme each week. The series includes stand-up, sketch and conversations with comedians where Feinstein riffs on the week's theme. Executive produced by Feinstein, Brennan Shroff, Amy Schumer, Kim Caramele and Steve Ast.
* Untitled Justin Willman Project - Comedian Justin Willman aims to fix the world's greatest problems and social injustices using the only logical method we have left: Magic. The half-hour pilot is executive produced by Willman, Chris Hardwick, Stuart Miller and Brillstein Entertainment Partners' Alex Murray and Tim Sarkes.
* "Do You Want to See a Dead Body?" - based on the Funny or Die shorts, "Do You Want to See a Dead Body?" is a half-hour, scripted pilot that follows Rob Huebel as he embarks on a bizarre quest/adventure to see a dead body with a different celebrity guest each week. Written by Huebel and directed by Nicholas Jasenovec, the pilot is executive produced by Huebel, Jasenovec, Owen Burke, Jonathan Stern's Abominable Pictures, and Funny Or Die.
* "Germany" (pilot presentation) - an animated series about a community of germs living in a Petri dish at the University of Berlin. Executive produced by and starring Channing Tatum, "Germany" explores the trials and tribulations of diverse microorganisms living in a microcosm of our world - complete with political scandals, climate change and vaccination deniers. "Germany" is a unique world in which both the laughter and the characters are contagious. The show was created by Aaron Karo and is also executive produced by Reid Carolin and Peter Kiernan through their Free Association banner.
* "Hood Adjacent" - Based on the Comedy Central original series, "Swag-A-Sauraus with James Davis" on Snapchat Discover, Davis, who was born and raised in South Central, one block away from where the sh** goes down, uses his multifaceted hybrid brand of comedy to share his unique take on the world. In this pilot, Davis educates the live and intimate audience on contemporary urban topics, bridging the gap between Urban and Mainstream comedy. Written and executive produced by Davis and Doug Karo and executive produced by Brillstein Entertainment Partners' Alex Murray and Shawna Kornberg.
* "Live From Everywhere" - shot in front of a studio audience, this live, half-hour variety show for the digital generation uses live streams to orchestrate the coolest, most unpredictable hangouts with celebrities and comedians. Executive produced by Sharp Entertainment's Matt Sharp and Dan Adler.
* "Problematic with Moshe Kasher" - a half-hour pilot hosted by Moshe Kasher who uses his own brand of "comedy journalism" to crawl into the social media muck of our most polarizing issues, provocative questions and heated arguments and dissect them in front of a studio audience. The multiplatform show seeks to understand the current culture of online outrage and discuss previously unexamined viewpoints on a number of topics in a stimulating and comedic debate. Executive produced by Moshe Kasher, Serious Business' Alex Blagg, Jason Nadler and Jon Zimelis ("@midnight with Chris Hardwick"), as well as Dave Becky and Josh Lieberman of 3 Arts Entertainment. Blagg will also be head writer and showrunner on the pilot.
* "Rudy" (pilot presentation) - an animated project written by Robert Padnick that follows childish "cholo" Rudy Cisneros who, after serving a 15-year prison sentence, wants to dissociate from gang life and start being there for his wife, kids and abuelita. Executive produced by Ed Helms and Mike Falbo of Pacific Electric and Animated by Titmouse. Based on Mike Catherwood's childhood and his "Rudy" character on "Loveline." Catherwood, Fred Armisen, Kether Donohue, Tony Revolori, and Danny Trejo make up the voice cast.
* "Storytime" - based on the web series created by Chioke Nassor, this half-hour pilot follows three comedians who recreate personal stories by playing every character in their story in dreamlike reenactments. In between segments, the performers and a host sit at a roundtable dissecting and reacting to one another's stories in front of a live audience. Executive produced by Nassor, Above Average and co-executive produced by Julie Miller. Nassor will direct.
* Untitled Kyle Dunnigan Project (script deal) - this script, set at a superhero academy, follows Kyle Dunnigan ("Inside Amy Schumer") as a professor with unimpressive powers. Written by Dunnigan and Kim Caramele ("Inside Amy Schumer") and executive produced by Dunnigan, Caramele and Amy Schumer.
* "Awkwafina" (script deal) - half-hour scripted narrative that focuses on a heightened version of Nora Lum, better known as rapper Awkwafina, as she navigates the underground hip hop community in Queens. As Awkwafina, Lum sets out to bring together her naturally-comedic personality with her rapping, producing viral songs like "My Vag," "NYC Bitche$," and "Giant Margaritas"-a song inspired by New York City's ban on large sodas. On the acting front, Nora will be featured in "Neighbors 2" coming out this summer.
* "Best Seller" (script deal) - executive produced by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Jessica Elbaum's Gloria Sanchez Productions along with Olivia Wilde, this script written by Nora Kirkpatrick and Dennis McNicholas, is set in the world of a third rate home shopping network. After the reigning queen of the channel is electrocuted on-air during a hair drying demonstration gone wrong, her three venomous power hungry disciples enter into a cutthroat competition for her coveted time slot.
* "Casey Vs." (script deal) - Casey Jost one-ups "Man vs. Wild" in the most extreme survival guide ever made and teaches viewers how to handle everything from the zombie apocalypse to an alien invasion. Executive produced by Casey Jost, Krister Johnson, Marla Ratner and Jim Biederman and written by Johnson.
* "Delco Proper" (script deal) - based on the Comedy Central digital series, "Delco Proper" centers around a family owned lumber yard and its blue collar crew made up of hardworking locals who never left their hometown in Delaware County, PA. The digital series is created, executive produced, written by and starring Tommy Pope and John McKeever, who also directs the series. * "Drunk Girl/High Guy" (script deal) - this Sarah Walker script follows the adventures of two best friends and work wife/work husband in New York City - a girl who is almost always drunk, and a guy who is almost always high.
* "East 89th" (script deal) - based on Sean Donnelly's real life experiences centering around the dysfunctional doormen of a luxury high-rise building on East 89th Street in New York City. Executive produced and written by Donnelly and Danny Solomon.
* "GERP" (script deal) - Produced by Jack Black's Electric Dynamite and co-written by Dick Blasucci ("Mad TV") and Janine DeTullio ("Late Night wtih Jimmy Fallon"), this show within a show follows a federal worker who hosts a government produced variety TV show from inside his cubicle during the work day. It's all part of the Government Entertainment Recovery Program created in response to a decline in the American spirit and laughter over the past 10 years. Their mission statement is simple, give every American citizen a reason to feel good about themselves again through 'high energy' bipartisan entertainment.
* "Legal-ish" (script deal) - written by Dave Storrs and Steve Mallory, follows a well-meaning slacker who finds himself on the jury bench of the longest-running case at his local courthouse. Executive produced by Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone's On the Day Productions.
* "New Timers" (script deal) - based on the Comedy Central Digital series, "New Timers" takes place following an apocalyptic "event." Matt Porter and Charlie Hankin, who create, star, executive produce and direct the series, now live their day-to-day in what's left of Brooklyn, looking for adventures, new friends and ways to pass the time.
* "Tijuana Beach" (script deal) - this animated project follows a Mexican American father who inherits a rundown resort from his uncle and relocates his family to Mexico. Executive produced and written by Tommy Dewey, Greg Bratman and "The Daily Show's" Al Madrigal. Eva Longoria's UnbeliEVAble Entertainment will also executive produce.
* "Used People" (script deal) - based on the Comedy Central digital series written by Michelle Wolf and Dan Soder, "Used People" follows uptight Michelle and stoner Dan who spend their days arguing, obsessing over their messy personal lives and - theoretically - selling used cars. Executive produced by Wolf, Soder, AGI Entertainment's Brian Stern and Dixon Talent's Dan Bodansky.
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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.