NBC has a new plan to get great shows on the air and only time will tell if it's genius or purely a sign of desperation. NBC is launching Comedy Playground, an initiative to give regular folks (as in not film school graduates or improv stars) the chance to pitch and produce a comedy pilot that could end up airing on the network. NBC entertainment president Jennifer Salke said when announcing Comedy Playground on Tuesday, "We are taking a bold, alternative approach in what we hope will uncover original comedy minds who are looking for a way to get into the television business."
A number of A-list comedy stars have signed on as advisors who will help select the winners. These include Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Aziz Ansari, Mindy Kaling, Maya Rudolph, and Jason Bateman among others actors, writers, and producers.
Comedy Playground starts with entrants submitting short video pitches beginning on May 1. From all of the submissions, ten will be chosen by a panel of NBC executives and these winners will go on to produce pilots funded by NBC. Two will be chosen to air on NBC along with one digital pilot to be shown online. At that point, the network will decide whether to order more episode or consider this thing a total failure and move on.
Salke explained that the contest will focus on finding a unique show. "Obviously we're going to look for shows that we think will appeal not to a broad audience [but one where] there's a vision ... so there's a viewership. If we find a hit show in the process, great."
As for the most obvious question in this crazy world of reality TV: What about Comedy Playground being a show itself? Salke said when asked, "We thought about that. Let's wait til next year."
For more information on Comedy Playground and to find out how you can enter, visit NBCComedyPlayground.com.