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New York Television Festival Unveils Its Most Diverse Independent Pilot Competition Yet

Fifty percent of the 52 pilots selected this year were created by women.


Lin-Manuel Miranda and Utkarsh Ambudkar in “Bartlett.”


Returning for the 13th year, the New York Television Festival has revealed the lineup of original pilots competing in this year’s Independent Pilot Competition. According to the official release, the 2017 entries represent the festival’s most diverse slate yet.

Talent featured in the lineup includes Jemima Kirke (“Girls”), Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton”), Bebe Neuwirth (“Cheers,” “Frasier”), David Wain (“Wet Hot American Summer”), Felicia Day (“Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return”), John Early (“Search Party”), Melonie Diaz (“Fruitvale Station”), Will Janowitz (“The Sopranos,” “Boardwalk Empire”), Cole Escola (“Difficult People”), Ana Gasteyer (“SNL”), Jo Firestone (“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”), DuShon Monique Brown (“Chicago Fire”), Kamal Angelo Bolden (“Chicago Fire,” “Rosewood”), D’Arcy Carden (“The Good Place”), and many more.

According to the NYTVF, 56 percent of the 52 selected pilots feature people of color above the line, and 71 percent feature a woman in a core creative role, with 50 percent created by women.

“There’s been a promising movement in television to foster and promote creators with wide-ranging and diverse experience and points of view – and I think we’re seeing those efforts come to fruition with this year’s slate,” Terence Gray, executive director of the NYTVF, said in a statement. “The goal of NYTVF has always been to identify the very best stories, and connect the creators of these projects with our industry partners. Seeing such a spectrum of voices being elevated organically this year, it’s heartening, and hopefully a bellwether of things to come.”

The New York Television Festival runs October 23-28 in New York City. Check out the full lineup below.

COMEDY (31 Pilots)
“Bad Dad” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Jamie Kaler and Greg Porper – Los Angeles, CA
Jimmy Walker never wanted a kid until he needed a kidney, and both arrived at his doorstep at the same time.
Starring Jamie Kaler (“My Boys”)

“Bartlett” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Martin Edwards and Chrissy Mazzeo – San Francisco, CA
Washed up advertising exec Roger Newhouse has just 10 hours to turn his life around in a series set in that vast gray area between fraud and re-invention.
From the team behind Freestyle Love Supreme and Starring Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton”) and Utkarsh Ambudkar (“The Mindy Project”)

“Basically Happy” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Liam Gallogly and Mollie Rehner – Chicago, IL
Mollie and Liam have a tendency to take everything to the extreme, especially when it comes to their relationship.

“Benefits with Friends” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Graceann Dorse – Brooklyn, NY
When Wendy gets diagnosed with cancer and loses her health insurance, Tina saves the day by agreeing to marry her, in this all-too-topical millennial comedy. However, Wendy doesn’t bargain for a major rift with her BFF Jillian…while her life is saved will their friendship flatline?

“City of Angles”
Created by Delaney Buffett and Katie Corwin – New York, NY
A satirical look at left-coast living where Sasha, a native New Yorker, attempts to navigate her new life in Los Angeles as a Hollywood assistant.

“The Company Men” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Patrick Babbitt, Lee Barats, Walt Delaney, Brian McGovern, and Kevin Walsh – Los Angeles, CA
A series blending the daily lives of offbeat office drones with the absurd sketch comedy of “The Company Men”.

“Dark of the Night” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Eric Yearwood and Alex Meyers – Brooklyn, NY
Join fearless truth-seekers Eric and Alex as they take on the world of conspiracies and the paranormal, via talk show.

“Detective Detective” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Pearson Jenks – Brooklyn, NY
A detective digs through details to determine which dangerous dame did away with a dipshit.

“Flatbush Misdemeanors”
Created by Dan Perlman and Kevin Iso – Brooklyn, NY
Longtime friends Dan and Kevin adjust to their evolving surroundings in the unforgiving environment of Flatbush, Brooklyn.

“Gentle Dan” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Dan White, Kyle Bethea, and Tim Lyons – Chicago, IL
When Dan’s temporary rough patch becomes an extended residency in the basement of his sister’s McMansion, he slowly adjusts to a new life in the suburbs and all the people who come with it.

“Giving Up
Created by Kris Lefcoe – New York, NY
A New York couple faces their own deadline to either “make it” or give up their dreams.
Pilot is a continuation of 2014 NYTVF Official Selection. Executive Produced by David Wain (“Wet Hot American Summer”) and starring Ben Kronberg (“The Half Hour”), Zandy Hartig (“Children’s Hospital”), and featuring Jo Firestone (“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”) and Kyle Dunnigan (“Inside Amy Schumer”)

“Guilty: The Web Series
Created by Katie Novotny, Erin Conroy, and Emma Smith – Chicago, IL
Katie Donovan, a 20-something in Chicago, is dealing with different temptations every day. From drinking too much before Mass to dating outside of her religion, Katie must find the strength to shed her Catholic guilt to be the person she wants to be instead of the Catholic girl her parents raised.

“Jeff’s Place” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Jeff Galfer, Sky Soleil, and Andrew Fleischer – Los Angeles, CA
“Twin Peaks”and “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” converge in this strange new world of lessons, sharing, and parallel realities.

“Let Me Die a Nun” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Sarah Salovaara – New York, NY
This six part series follows the opposing but intersecting trajectories of a lesbian novice nun, her Jewish stalker, and the object of her affection.
Starring Ana Fabrega (“Portlandia”) and Hari Nef (“Transparent”)

“Misery Loves Company” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Emily C. Chang and Sara Amini
Two friends navigate being women of color in a post-election world, while trying (and failing) at a #blessed life in LA.
Co-Created by and Starring Emily C. Chang (“The Bold Type”, “Vampire Diaries”)

“Nest” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Nick Leveski – Richmond, VA
A “mysterious” “teen” with a “shadowy” past meets a “super cool” restaurant owner with a heart of “gold” and a passion for “helping” troubled teens.

“Network Zero” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Kevin Pedersen – Los Angeles, CA
A motley crew of survivors after the end of the world build a colony around an old abandoned public access television station and broadcast their odd assortment of post-apocalyptic shows out into the wasteland.
Starring Maria Thayer (“Those Who Can’t”), Betsy Sodaro (“Comedy Bang! Bang!, Animal Practice”), Timm Sharp (“Blunt Talk, Enlightened”)

Network Zero

“Network Zero”


“New York is Dead” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Jenn Harris, Matthew Wilkas, and Randy Harrison – New York, NY
A darkly hilarious series about two broke NYC artists who become hitmen to make ends meet.
Created by Jenn Harris and Matthew Wilkas (“Gayby”), Directed and Executive Produced by Randy Harrison (“Queer as Folk”), Featuring Bebe Neuwirth (“Frasier”, “Cheers”), Jemima Kirke (“Girls”), John Early (“Search Party”), Cole Escola (“Difficult People”), Ana Gasteyer (“SNL”), Jeff Hiller (“Nightcap”), and Maulik Pancholy (“30 Rock”)

“Night Crew” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Mike Cabellon, Adrien Pellerin, and Katie Sicking – New York, NY
Three data entry employees work the night shift at the Pentagon, where they have access to the world’s biggest secrets and little to no accountability.

“Primos, Inc.” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Lucien Flores and Michela M. Smith – New York, NY
Two Latino cousins gentrify their immigrant family’s customs and traditions to appeal to Brooklyn hipsters.
Starring Jon Rua (“Hamilton, In the Heights”) and Federico Rodriguez (“Bull”)

“Projecting” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by James III, Jonathan Braylock, James Carr, and Jerah Milligan – New York, NY
Three overly opinionated movie theater employees project their points of view on the unsuspecting public.

“Rap Skool” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Nnamdi Ngwe and Amechi Ngwe – Chicago, IL
Rob and Davis join a school of rap for the middle class and realize it’s tougher than they expected.

“Royally: An Original Series” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Rachel B. Joyce – New York, NY
A millennial burnout runs a private princess party company as a front for small-time cons, petty theft, and drug peddling.
Featuring Christina Seidel (“Boardwalk Empire”)

“Shit Kids”
Created by Kyle Dunnigan – Los Angeles, CA
The daughter of an earth-shatteringly boring couple, along with the son of an equally humdrum set of parents, have decided to plot their parents’ murders.
Created by and Starring Kyle Dunnigan (“Inside Amy Schumer”), Executive Produced by Daniel Kellison (Executive Producer – “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”), Starring Candace Brown (“Head Case”)

“Sneakers” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Rachel Wolther and Amy Zimmer – New York, NY
Determined and foolhardy, Amy brings her entrepreneurial spirit to the world, to unwieldy and surprising results.
Featuring Ana Fabrega (“Portlandia”), Jaboukie Young White (“Rough Night”), Gary Richardson (“Don’t Think Twice”)

“Solving Leah” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Leah Bonnema, Melissa Pinsly, and Franklin Zitter – New York, NY
A lovable, anxiety-ridden accountant is wrongly accused of murder and vows to find the killer herself.
Featuring Will Miles (“The Chris Gethard Show”)

“Splunch” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Moujan Zolfaghari, Timothy Dunn, Michelle Ciotta, Silvija Ozols, Johnathan Fernandez, Hudson Meredith, Trevor Williams, Michelle Francesca Thomas, David Sidorov, Mehdi Barakchian, and Kristen Bartlett – New York, NY
Move over Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. Splunch is here, and it’s going to #change the way you #consume your #content.
Co-written by Kristen Bartlett (“Saturday Night Live”)

“Starving Artists” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Dewayne Perkins and Aasia Bullock – Chicago, IL
Comedy duo Aasia and Dewayne go to extravagant lengths to reach their goals of international stardom and complete world domination. “Starving Artists” is a show about being young, gifted, and black in a world that praises straight, white, and wack.

“That Which Speaketh” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Felipe Di Poi, Ian Faria, Sam Lanier, Will Niedmann, Kent Smith, and Becca Zeiger – Providence, RI
A surrealist sitcom about a family and their obelisk.

“Tuff Boys” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Ryan Harrington and Isaac Himmelman – Brooklyn, New York
This musical comedy follows twenty-somethings Ryan and Isaac as they traverse the magical Brooklyn of their dreams and discover the true meaning of friendship.

“What Ever Happened to the Birches” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Madeline Walter and Paul Welsh – Los Angeles, CA
A mockumentary-style show about two self-absorbed twins who see their mom’s death as the creative opportunity they’ve been waiting for.
Created by Paul Welsh (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) and Madeline Walter (“College Humor Originals”), and featuring D’Arcy Carden (“The Good Place”) and Ian Roberts (“UCB Comedy Originals”)


“After Oil”
Created By Jessica Naftaly and Shailyn Cotten – New York, NY
In a dystopian future affected by an oil shortage, a young woman discovers there’s something sinister behind the disappearance of one of her bike messengers.

Created by Erin Wagoner and directed by Maggie Kiley – Los Angeles, CA
Two moms and their nannies strive to find a balance between taking care of others and themselves.
Starring Hannah Dunne (“Horace and Pete, Mozart in the Jungle”) and Mickey Sumner (“Frances Ha”)

“Drive Slow” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Terrence Thompson
A teenager from the South-Side of Chicago attempts to finish his college essays and struggles to boil down his complex surroundings in 500 words, while his friends’ disparate opinions, racist news narratives, and the threat of lingering danger complicate the process.

“From Jappan” [World Festival Premiere]
Created By Raj Trivedi – New York, NY
As Jappan grows older and more independent, he flashes back to his twelve-year-old self living under the thumb of his family’s culture.

“Giving Me Life (In The Land of The Deadass)” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Dafina Roberts – New York, NY
A provocative dramedy about six Black and Latinx friends of diverse sexualities struggling to live and love in New York.

“The Green”
Created by Sophia Loffreda and Shea Mayo – Austin, TX
When a trio of 10-year-old BFFs find a bag of marijuana on the soccer field after practice, they hatch a foolproof plan to sell the green to their suburban town’s fabled drug dealer.

“Katharsis” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Niv Samban – Tel Aviv, Israel
One man creates a digital playground out of the human consciousness and soon falls down deep into the rabbit hole where secret forces, hackers, and the mind converge.

“Lost & Found”
Created by Haroula Rose – Los Angeles, CA
Stella and Ian’s unwedding unsettles their group of friends in Los Angeles in this dramedy about modern relationships.
Starring Melonie Diaz (“Fruitvale Station”) and Will Janowitz (“The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire”)

Created by Yolanda Carney, Kate Marks, and Kimberley Browning – Los Angeles, CA
An Ivy-league bound, overachieving teen is derailed after a manic episode lands her in a school for children with mental illnesses.
Featuring Shanice Williams (NBC’s “The Wiz Live”), Dot-Marie Jones (“Glee”), Nicki Micheaux (“Animal Kingdom”)

“Max Riddle” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Jeff Skowron and Matt Yeager – New York, NY
A good-hearted but socially inept man is forced to meet new people and expand his horizons after he loses his small-town job to a robot.
Featuring Brandon J. Dirden (“The Americans”, “The Get Down”) and Mary Birdsong (“The Descendents”, “Reno 911!”)

Created by Dinh Thai – Los Angeles, CA
“What can I get to you?” That’s the question driving a conflicted young hustler who sells everything and anything to make money. As he code-switches through various cliques, he’s forced to confront racism as well as the immorality of his occupation.

“People You May Know”
Created by Zandile Tisani – Johannesburg, South Africa
This modern tale of millennials in Johannesburg centers around a friendship that’s tested as two best friends keep secrets from each other for fear of tearing the relationship apart.

“Public Housing Unit”
Created by Patrick Wimp, Ted Reilly, and Angie Gaffney – Chicago, IL
Set in the late 1980’s, three police officers take on both lawmakers and lawbreakers as they work to protect the people of Chicago’s infamous public housing projects.
Starring DuShon Monique Brown (“Chicago Fire”), Kamal Angelo Bolden (“Chicago Fire, Rosewood”), Antoine McKay (“Empire”)

ANIMATION (6 Pilots)

“Eternity Fraternity” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Kevin Barker, Ben Miller, and Nina Quill – Brooklyn, NY
When a reluctant pledge accidentally dies during a rush party, he comes across a tougher challenge: pledging a ghost fraternity run by the sardonic Victorian witch-ghosts who used to own the frat house.

“Horse Court” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Charlie Laud and Matt Laud – Shelburne, VT
When you break the law, and you’re a horse, there’s only one place you can go.

“peopleWatching” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Winston Rowntree and Geoff Lapaire – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
A post-modern comedy about 20-somethings in the year 20-something, stuck in that seemingly-endless limbo between school and adulthood, nothing and friendship, and expectations and reality.

“Tiffany the Teenage Grim Reaper” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Lauren Rantala – Los Angeles, CA
Tiffany is your average teenage girl who happens to be a Grim Reaper.

“Weird Creatures”
Created by Manolo Moreno – Brooklyn, NY
A unique, improvised series following two blue collar cryptozoologists as they study, hunt, and capture creatures from folklore.
Co-starring and Co-written by Jo Firestone (Writer – “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”)

“Yummiloo” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Traci Johnson, Bob Mowen, and Anthony Weintraub  – New York, NY
Rooty and her best friend, Beany, go on an adventure in this series for preschoolers that sets the foundation of healthy eating through lovable characters and stories in a world made of food.
Created by Traci Paige Johnson (co-creator – “Blues Clues”)


“Against All Odds” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Lucy Smith and Jamie Minty – London, England, United Kingdom
In this game show competition format, five contestants carry five locked bags, but only one contains £100,000. Together, the group must complete an obstacle course across treacherous natural landscapes and make it to the finish line.

“Put That in Your Skits” [World Festival Premiere]
Created by Trevor Williams – New York, NY
A filmmaker begins producing every comedy idea pitched to him by his relatives and friends in this hilarious comedic format.

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