LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – MTV’s next target: scripted comedy. The cable network is developing an unprecedented number of scripted half-hour projects, including an animated series and five pilots.
“We’re going to apply the same tenets of creativity and genre-busting to scripted comedy that ‘Laguna Beach’ used to make over the documentary,” MTV head of programing Tony DiSanto said. “It makes sense as a progression for us when a lot of our shows like ‘Run’s House’ and ‘The Hills’ look scripted to start going forward with actual scripted shows.”
The projects include a 20-episode series order for a new animated series, “DJ and the Fro,” that revolves around two office drones who swap viral videos while surrounded by workplace mayhem.
The network’s quintet of pilots — not all of which have closed deals — are a mix of live-action and animated projects, with three set in high school and two based on existing Web series.
One idea sure to get headlines if green-lighted is “Private High Musical,” based on an online series that produced raunchy versions of high school shows.
“I’ve always been an avid musical fan, and when Disney’s ‘High School Musical’ became this big phenomenon, I thought it was funny that nobody ever did a musical that told how high school really was,” creator Taryn Southern said.
Another pilot is writer-actor Dan Levy’s “Long Distance Relationship,” also based on a Web series, about a high school couple who go to separate colleges and conduct a relationship via webcam. “Popzilla,” meanwhile, is a half-hour sketch comedy pilot that lampoons celebrity news and gossip.
Two other pilots are “Hard Times,” written by Seth Grahame-Smith and produced by David Katzenberg (son of DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg), about a well-endowed high school geek whose social status is greatly improved after accidentally exposing himself at a basketball game, and “Who’s Your Daddy?” from Les Firestein (“The Drew Carey Show”), an animated comedy about the multicultural adopted kids of a celebrity couple.
MTV’s development department has been prolific in recent years, but executives say the current lineup has more pilots in production than any other time in network history.