Want to create a show on NBC but don’t have any comedy ties? The network wants to give you a chance with its new nationwide talent search: NBC Comedy Playground. Aspiring showrunners can create video pitches and possibly win a timeslot on NBC’s future lineup or a digital series.
The network announced the initiative Tuesday (April 8) and will launch its search on May 1. “Aspiring comedy writers are asked to submit their ideas to be considered for both digital and network comedy shows,” NBC says in a release. “Entrants may submit up to two video samples (5-10 minutes each) of their pre-existing work, along with up to two video pitches (2-5 minutes per pitch), each describing a unique original show idea, to www.nbccomedyplayground.com.”
Of those entries, 10 will be chosen and turned into full-length, NBC-funded pilots. A panel of celebrity judges — comprised of everyone from Jason Bateman to Eva Longoria, Maya Rudolph to Mindy Kaling — will choose two to pick up to series and air in a one-hour comedy block on NBC in Summer 2015. One of the remaining eight finalists will be voted on by the public to be turned into an NBC digital series.
The judges include Aziz Ansari, Bateman, Robert Carlock (“30 Rock”), Sean Hayes, Kaling, Jason Katims (“Parenthood,” “About a Boy”), Josh Lieb (“The Tonight Show”), Longoria, Adam McKay (“Anchorman”), Seth Meyers, Todd Milliner (Hayes’ producing partner), Will Packer (“Ride Along”), Amy Poehler, Craig Robinson, Rudolph, Mike Schur (“Parks and Recreation,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), Adam Scott and Mike Shoemaker (“Late Night with Seth Meyers”).
Says NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke, “We really wanted it to be a video contest. We want to attract people who can not only create and write something that we respond to, but can also execute. … We’re not just looking for little funny video clips. Somebody needs to put some thought into this. It needs to feel like a show.”
Although a production coordinator from NBC will supervise the pilot process, the network will remain mostly hands-off. “Once we’ve signed off, we want them to go and do their show,” Salke says.