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NBC Creates National Grassroots 'Comedy Playground' to Find New Shows from Fresh Talent

Photo of Ben Travers By Ben Travers | Indiewire April 8, 2014 at 7:57PM

An advisory board of NBC talent will select two shows to air on national television while one runner-up will stream online.
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NBC has announced a grassroots comedy campaign to find three new network programs, two to broadcast on national television and one to stream digitally online. Jennifer Saike announced the initiative titled "NBC Comedy Playground" at NBC Universal's Summer Press Day Tuesday evening. The goal of the project is to discover fresh comedic voices without traditional access to the network's infrastructure -- in other words, looking for creators outside film schools and New York and LA comedy clubs.

The national competition asks contenders to submit two video samples, each between five and 10 minutes in length, that will be analyzed by NBC executives. NBC will then fund 10 pilots from the selected programs, and those will be judged by an advisory board made up of NBC Universal talent who will select the two winning programs. The eight runners up will be released online where viewers will be asked to vote for the best of the remaining shows. Whatever pilot wins the vote will be produced for online release.

The advisory board consists of almost every celebrity on NBC's payroll, including Aziz Ansari, Jason Bateman, Robert Carlock, Sean Hayes, Mindy Kaling, Jason Katims, Josh Lieb, Eva Longoria, Adam McKay, Seth Meyers, Todd Milliner, Will Packer, Amy Poehler, Craig Robinson, Maya Rudolph, Mike Schur, Adam Scott, and Mike Shoemaker. The shows selected by this group are scheduled to air in the summer of 2015. 

"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," Salke said. "We love that an incredible A-list roster of producers, writers, and performers have jumped in to help us find that untapped talent."

Along with the video samples, entrants can also submit up to two video pitches between two and five minutes per pitch. To qualify, you cannot have had a show on the air previously. Showrunners and executive producers need not apply. Winners' projects will be made into series that Salke said would contain "up to six" episodes, but a strict episode count hasn't been set. Salke also said the contestants who do not win retain the rights to their material.

More details can be found on the website. Submissions begin May 1st.

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