Ellen Digital Network’s “Not Great With Lauren” will star longtime “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” writer Lauren Pomerantz in a comedy series where Pomerantz will be constantly forced to throw herself out of her comfort zone. Pomerantz has been involved in “Ellen” for over 13 seasons and occasionally stars in the program’s comedy sketches.
Pomerantz’s upcoming series isn’t the first time one of DeGeneres’ team members has starred in their own spinoff. “Life’s First Ever With Jeannie” stars “Ellen” regular Jeannie Klisiewicz, who connects with DeGeneres fans and helps them enjoy various first-time experiences, such as buying a wedding dress. Similarly, “Ellen” DJ Stephen “tWitch” Boss, who joined the show in 2014, also starred in two spinoffs where he used his talents to help DeGeneres’ fans hone their dance skills.
While DeGeneres is understandably the main face of most of the “Ellen” brand, Michael Riley, general manager of Ellen Digital Ventures, noted that the platform readily works with its lesser-known talent if there’s an audience there.
“We got a lot of laughs out of Lauren’s sketches and thought it was time to explore developing a show with her,” Riley told IndieWire in an interview. “We’re keen at using the ‘Ellen’ show as a comedy incubator.”
Though “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” is a syndicated program, DeGeneres has spent years building up her own digital media platform, which hosts the aforementioned spinoffs and a myriad of other content.
The digital network’s second upcoming project, “Lady Parts,” will be anchored by doctor and entrepreneur Sheryl Ross. The series will offer candid conversations about sex and body positivity that aims to offer a mix of entertainment and education. The show will also include a brand partnership element, though specifics are still under wraps.
Both shows are expected to debut in 2020, but other details about the two projects — including episode numbers, length, and specific release dates — are being kept close to the vest.
Regardless, the mention of brand partnerships wasn’t unsurprising, given that “Lady Parts” was announced at NewFronts West, which was focused on ethical and socially conscious marketing. Though projects are regularly announced at NewsFronts, it is primarily an advertising and networking event where various digital brands present their upcoming content to potential marketers. 2019 marks the second year that NewFronts — which also hosts an annual New York event — hosted a spot in Los Angeles.
Consumer cynicism toward advertising was a recurring topic at NewFronts, as were discussions on how to avoid marketing campaigns that come off as overly corporate or pandering. Brand partnerships that overcome those obstacles are a key part of DeGeneres’ overall digital strategy, according to Alana Calderone Polcsa, senior vice president of brand content and partnerships at Warner Bros. Polcsa, who also handles the brand strategy for DeGeneres’ show and digital platform, cited the platform’s ongoing partnership with Cheerios as a brand partnership that generated sincere goodwill with viewers.
Rather than constantly blaring out Cheerios ads or drinking from a mug emblazoned with the cereal’s anthropomorphic bee mascot for months, DeGeneres’ Cheerios had viewers submit their acts of kindness for the One Million Acts of Good campaign, some of whom were later featured on DeGeneres’ show and received cash prizes. DeGeneres makes it clear that it’s a sponsorship deal, but encouraging viewers to get involved in the campaign and do philanthropy made the brand partnership come across as a genuine good, according to Polcsa.
“Cheerios came to us for a partnership to expand on their new theme of ‘good going around,’” Polcsa told IndieWire in an interview. “Together, we came up with One Million Acts of Good. We galvanized Ellen’s audience and created content on the show and digitally that had them to do good and take action.”
Although “Not Great With Lauren” and “Lady Parts” are still a ways away, several other Ellen-branded projects are set to return in the fall. Season 4 of “Momsplaining with Kristen Bell,” a comedy series about Bell’s take on motherhood, will premiere on October 23, while Season 2 of the empowerment-focused “Fearless With Ashley Graham,” will debut on November 7.