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Comedy Central Chief Talks Late-Night Plans, Reggie Watts’ New Game Show

Variety logo Variety 4/18/2017 Brian Steinberg
© Provided by Variety

Comedy Central is readying three new series and a broader set of late-night options in an effort to, with a singular goal in mind, according to the Viacom network’s top executive: “We are opening our aperture, so we are appealing to more than just a young, white male audience,” said Kent Alterman, the cable network’s president.

The network best known for programs like “The Daily Show” and “Broad City” has picked up three new series and ordered nine pilots in an effort to make the comedy-content outlet relevant to a wider set of viewers, he said. “We are all really trying to be responsive to our audience and the times we are living in,” he said in an interview. Comedy Central isn’t just starting the effort, he said. The network has already tried new programs featuring female producers and protagonists, including “Broad City,” “Inside Amy Schumer” and “Not Safe with Nikki Glaser.” “We are just continuing to diversify at different levels,” he added.

The network’s new programming slate is led by series orders for scripted series “Corporate”; “The New Negroes,” a stand-up and music hybrid variety series ; and Taskmaster,” a game show format imported from the U.K. which will be hosted by Reggie Watts.

“Corporate” offers a dark look at life as a junior executive in training at a national corporation, and stars Pat Bishop, Matt Ingebretson, and Jake Weisman.  Ingebretson and Weisman must navigate around a tyrannical CEO, played by Lance DeVille and a revolving series of workplace disasters. Adam Lustick, Anne Dudek, Aparna Nancherla also star. . Executive produced by Ingebretson, Weisman, Bishop, who will also direct and Jake Fogelnest. Adam Londy and Ian Friedman are the executives in charge of production for Comedy Central.

“Taskmaster” stars Reggie Watts in the title role, who judges five contestants as they compete against each other in a series of what are billed as “stupefying tasks.” Produced by Avalon Television. Executive produced by Watts, series creator Alex Horne (who also has a role in the show), Richard Allen-Turner, Rob Aslett, David Martin, James Taylor, Jon Thoday, Kara Baker and Andy Devonshire, who will also direct. Kellyn Parker, Adam Londy and Jordan Ellner are the executives in charge of production for Comedy Central.

In “The New Negroes,” Baron Vaughn and Open Mike Eagle star in a  socially aware stand-up and musical series showcasing a collection of new and established comedians. Created, executive produced and co-hosted byBaron Vaughn, , executive produced and co-hosted by Open Mike Eagle and executive produced by Betsy Koch, Funny Or Die, and Lance Bangs, who will direct. JoAnn Grigioni, Anne Harris and Kellyn Parker are the executives in charge of production for Comedy Central.

Comedy Central will enter the Spring with two new late-night concepts, with another at the ready for fall. The network has announced the coming  premiere of “The President Show” on April 27, a  Jim Jeffries weekly late-night series debuting this summer; and a new addition to the regular lineup: a Jordan Klepper-led entry at 11:30 p.m. slated to start in the fall. Alterman said “@midnight,” which has been airing at 11:30 p.m, since the network canceled “The Nightly Show,” will return to its midnight roost as part of the new fall launch.

If “President Show” and Jeffries fare well in the weeks to come, said Alterman, they could certainly continue on the network’s schedule. “Late night has sort of just evolved to mean more than just late night strip shows,” he said. “They now include a certain sensibility. That could include a weekly show that isn’t even in the late-night time slot.”

Pilots include:

“Alternatino”  a half-hour sketch show based on a Comedy Central digital series. hosted and performed by Arturo Castro as he attempts to navigate life as a modern Latino millennial. Executive Produced by Castro and Avalon’s David Martin, Jon Thoday, Richard Allen-Turner and Sam Saifer.

“Delco Proper” based on a Comedy Central digital series, this program centers around a group of buddies from Delaware County, PA, who’ve worked together in the same lumberyard for years and realize it’s hard to change in a town that doesn’t. Written by John McKeever and Tommy Pope, with McKeever set to direct. Executive Produced by McKeever, Pope, Eric Abrams, and Sam Saifer of Avalon.

“Home for the Weekend” – a mockumentary-style half-hour follows creator, executive producer and host Neal Brennan and a celebrity guest as they take a weekend trip back to the guest’s hometown. In each episode, things veer off the rails and pleasant strolls down memory lane take unexpected turns which reveal surprising backstories and hidden details about high-profile stars. Executive produced by Brennan, Party Over Here’s Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, along with Lindsay Hannon.

“Power Couple” – is  created, written and executive produced by Noël Wells (who is attached to star) and Flint Wainess. A neurotic 20-something couple in Austin, Texas navigate the existential horrors of the Internet age while clashing with friends, neighbors, and the absurdity of the world around them.

“Untitled Awkwafina Project –This half-hour scripted narrative focuses on a heightened version of Nora Lum, better known as rapper Awkwafina, as she navigates the underground hip hop community in Queens. Written by Nora Lum and Teresa Hsiao, executive produced byItay Reiss of Principato-Young Entertainment and Lum and co-executive produced by Hsiao.

“Untitled Chris Kelly And Sarah Schneider Project” – Two struggling siblings who are forced to reevaluate their lives when their much younger 12-year-old brother becomes instantly famous without trying. Written by Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, with Kelly  set to direct. Executive produced by Kelly, Schneider, Lorne Michaels and Andrew Singer of Broadway Video.

“Untitled Franchesca Ramsey Project” –  A diverse set of comedians led by Franchesca Ramsey offer brutal comedy, surprising guests, and breakdowns of the most pressing cultural issues. Executive produced byRamsey, Eric Brown and Andrew Kornhaber and Kara Welker of Generate.

“Untitled Jak Knight Stand-Up Project” – Jak Knight hosts an underground stand-up show featuring three comedians from different genres and a unique performance from an emerging musical artist. Produced by Den of Thieves, executive produced by Knight, Molly Mandel, Lisa Mierke, Jared Morell, Jordan Barrow, Evan Prager, and Jesse Ignjatovic and directed by Chris Storer.

“Untitled South Side Project” This workplace comedy is set in and around a rent-to-own business on the South Side of Chicago. Written by Bashir Salahuddin, Diallo Riddle and Sultan Salahuddin. All three writers will have roles on the show. The show will be executive produced by Bashir Salahuddin and Riddle as well as executive produced and directed by Michael Blieden.

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