NBC Launches ‘Comedy Playground’ Grassroots Initiative to Find New Comedy Writing Talent and Create New Series

By April 9, 2014

With NBC’s new sitcoms like “Sean Saves the World” and “The Michael J. Fox” falling to the wayside, the network has realized that they might need to broaden their horizons when it comes to finding new comedy series and the talent behind them.

NBC is already showcasing great stand-up comedy talent with the return of “Last Comic Standing,” and yesterday, the network sent out a press release announcing “NBC Comedy Playground,” a grassroots initiative created to find aspiring comedy writers across the country and give them a chance to take their amateur series pitches to the small screen.

In addition, to form a comedy Advisory Board the network has rounded up their “Parks & Recreation” stars Amy Poehler, Adam Scott and Aziz Ansari; “The Office” regulars Mindy Kaling and Craig Robinson; “Saturday Night Live” veterans Maya Rudolph and Seth Meyers; “Growing Up Fisher” narrator and “Arrested Development” star Jason Bateman; “Will & Grace” Emmy winner Sean Hayes; and, for some reason, Eva Longoria.

Amy Poehler

And behind the camera, NBC has also landed Robert Carlock (“3o Rock”), Jason Katims (“Parenthood”), Josh Lieb (“The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon”), writer/director Adam McKay (Anchorman, Step Brothers), Todd Milliner (“Sean Saves the World”), producer Will Packer (Ride Along), Mike Shoemaker (producer and writer of “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”) and Mike Schur, the executive producer of “The Office,” “Parks & Recreation” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”

This group of comedic talent will help NBC select two winners from a national campaign to find new comedy writers with the intention of creating two original shows that will be broadcast during the summer of 2015 on NBC. The network hopes to reach outside of their usual channels like film school and comedy clubs in Los Angeles and New York to find people who might not otherwise be in a prime location to have their talent discovered. If you’re interested in vying for this coveted opportunity, the press release says:

Beginning May 1, aspiring comedy writers are asked to submit their ideas to be considered for both digital and network comedy shows. 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.

Following these submissions, up to ten finalists will be picked by an NBC Selection Panel (that’s not the same as the Advisory Board listed above), and the network will fully fund a full pilot presentation for each of them based on their original pitch. After that, the Advisory Board will pick the two winners (NBC will have some say too) that will have their show hit TV in 2015.

But that’s not all, because the other finalists will have their presentations posted on the “NBC Comedy Playground” website, where the public will vote on their favorite. Whoever wins that will see their pitch turned into a digital series.

It sounds like a unique opportunity for some untapped comedic talent to get the spotlight they need. But at the same time, this screams desperation from a network that is from far the comedic greatness that once made NBC famous for being a “Must-See TV” destination. We just hope NBC finds some fantastic new shows that don’t just play it safe by recycling the familiar sitcom model.

What do you think? Do you have a good show idea that you’re going to send in to the network?

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Ethan Anderton
Some of his favorite films include Ghostbusters, The Empire Strikes Back and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while his favorite TV series include LOST, Mad Men, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, Arrested Development and Saturday Night Live.
  • This is a great way for people to put up or shut up when they trash talk NBC’s comedies.