NBCU picks up comedy winner from the NY Television Festival
Split the Difference, which won both the comedy competition and the TV Guide Audience Award, is the first scripted pilot to be picked up in the two-year history of the festival, as well as the first to be picked up by a major network. It's a mockumentary-style comedy that revolves around the rivalry-filled and phony world of making television commercials.
I thought it was by far the funniest pilot in the comedy competition, but that the mockumentary format would have to change so it didn't look like The Office at an advertising firm. Good to see we'll get a chance to see how this show gets developed. You can see the full press release after the jump. And you can still see the pilot on MSN.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THE NEW YORK TELEVISION FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES THE SALE OF COMEDY PILOT "SPLIT THE DIFFERENCE"
[NEW YORK, NY, NOVEMBER 13, 2006] – The New York Television Festival (NYTVF) today announced that the rights to "Split the Difference," a half-hour comedy series set in a fictional New York-based TV advertising agency, have been acquired by NBC Universal Television Studio. The pilot for "Split the Difference" debuted earlier this year at the New York Television Festival's Independent Pilot Competition and earned considerable acclaim, winning the award for Best Comedy Pilot as well as the TV Guide Audience Award. The second annual NYTVF was held from September 12th through September 17th in midtown Manhattan.
"The New York Television Festival is thrilled for the team behind 'Split the Difference,' which was one of the standout pilots in this year's competition," said NYTVF founder Terence Gray. "The show enjoyed an incredible response from audiences and industry alike, and I am certain it can continue its success at the network level."
"Split the Difference" is set in lower Manhattan in the offices of the Nest Ad Agency, a firm that creates television advertising campaigns for corporate clients. The pilot episode features two competing creative teams clashing as they attempt to pitch a client very disparate concepts for a home security system. The complete 22-minute pilot can be viewed at http://www.nytvf.com.
Meryl Poster, producer at NBC Universal Television Studio, has acquired the rights to the show. "The pilot was brought to my attention and made me laugh out loud," said Poster. "A day after the Festival we found ourselves in a room with the pilot-makers. I am really excited about moving forward with this project."
The series' Supervising Producers are Mary Egan Callahan, Joe Narciso, and Bruce Hurwit. The pilot was produced by Alec Sash, written by Joe Narciso, and directed by Bruce Hurwit. Featured in the pilot are several experienced New York City-based actors, including Matt Servitto (The Sopranos) Nick Kroll (Best Week Ever), and Jim Conroy (Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman).
"Our main goal was to get into the New York Television Festival," said Callahan and Narciso in a joint statement. "When we got in, we had no idea how many doors would open up for us. We are confident that an incisive and smart comedy series like 'Split the Difference' will be as popular and successful with home viewers as it was with Festival audiences."
The NYTVF was supported by a number of corporate sponsors to present the 2006 Festival this fall, including Signature Sponsor MSN and Official Media Sponsor Variety. TV Guide and the William Morris Agency continued its association with the Festival for the second consecutive year as Supporting Sponsors. Official Network Sponsors for the 2006 NYTVF included NBC Universal, FOX, ABC, A&E, Versus, Rainbow Media (IFC, We Entertainment, and AMC), Bravo, and Court TV. The Festival also works in conjunction with the Mayor's Office of New York City.
The NYTVF debuted in 2005 as the industry's first showcase for independent television. In April 2006, the Festival announced the first sale of a program that had premiered in the Independent Pilot Competition to a major cable network. The comedy pilot "Criss-Cross" was purchased by A&E Television Networks and put into development under the working title "I Never Said That." This announcement was followed in June by the sale of "Off the Hook" to VERSUS. In addition to these two sales, "The Back Brace," named Best Animation Pilot at the 2005 NYTVF, reached a distribution deal with a French film company to be shown in six European countries. All three of these independent pilots were produced in New York City.
For more information on the NYTVF, please visit www.newyorktelevisionfestival.com.