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Peacock Offers Diversity for Fall
August 16, 2020  | By Mike Hughes  | 1 comment
 


As streaming networks battle for viewers, Peacock's special weapon is comedy.

It has lots of it – new and old, good and bad, silly and satirical. And it has just added more.

In Television Critics Association (TCA) sessions last week, the network announced two topical shows (with Larry Wilmore and Amber Ruffin), an action-comedy (with Will Forte), and a musical-comedy-drama (Tina Fey, producing and Sara Bareilles, starring).

And it broke a tradition of sorts: Networks often base series on movies that were box-office hits; Peacock is going the opposite way, ordering eight episodes of Forte's MacGruber. In 2010, the film made only $9.3 million in the U.S., putting it $400 million behind Avatar or Toy Story 3

Peacock assembles shows from NBC, its cable channels (Syfy, USA, etc.), its parent company (Universal), plus some outside deals.

In the streaming world, it faces networks that are strong on fantasy: Disney+ has Star Wars and Marvel, HBO Max has Game of Thrones and the DC Universe, CBS All Access has Star Trek shows, etc.  

There is some of that at Peacock. It has a new Brave New World mini-series and is rebooting Battlestar Galactica. But its strength is in comedy with Cheers, Frasier, 30 Rock, Will & Grace, Parks and Recreation, Saturday Night Live, and more.

But Peacock is not leaving out topical programs, and they're bringing along new hosts to address the issues of the day.

In August of 2016 – as the ratings for all topical shows were increasing – Comedy Central suddenly canceled Wilmore's late-night show. "It was very frustrating," he said last week.

Four years later, he'll be back in time for this election. The show (not yet named) will start in September as a weekly half-hour program. Wilmore will open with his comments then have guests and a weekly topic. "Politics (is) endlessly fascinating…. Trump himself is a living satire," he said.

Black hosts have been scarce in late-night, but Peacock is adding two – Wilmore and Amber Ruffin (top).

She'll continue as a writer and performer for Seth Meyers' show, then do The Amber Ruffin Show – same studio, no desk – on Fridays. There will be no guests, Ruffin said, just comedy and music. "I'm programmed to have a good time. Even if we're talking about serious stuff, I'm having my fun." There won't be a studio audience at first, Ruffin said, but "in my mind, I will hear uproarious laughter."

She'll do nine weeks, Wilmore will do eleven, and then they'll pause for mid-course corrections.

As for Sara Bareilles, she is already key to one streaming series. She produces and writes songs for Little Voice, which arrived last month on Apple TV+.

Now she'll star in Girls5eva. Produced by Fey and Robert Carlock, it's about a girl group that had one hit, faded, and was rediscovered by a rapper.

Also new is the MacGruber series, based on the SNL parody of MacGyver. The movie was listed by Parade magazine as the second biggest flop of 2010, but Peacock calls it a "cult favorite" and says the series is "highly anticipated."

Other shows featured at the TCA sessions:

A.P. Bio – moving to Peacock Sept. 3, after two NBC seasons. The main character, Jack Griffin (Glenn Howerton), is a teacher of advanced-placement biology. He remains the same self-centered guy he's always been, but producer Mike O'Brien said there's also fresh attention to the principal and his assistant (Patton Oswalt and Paula Pell). "They're such positive, good-good people. And innocent."

A reworking of Saved By the Bell – Tracey Wigfield, the showrunner, says she loved the original as a kid, but "it was a very sanitary, safe version of high school." Now kids from another district will be mixed in, creating a good-spirited but "edgier show."

Finally, there's Rutherford Falls, from writer-producer Mike Schur (The Good Place). Ed Helms plays a small-town leader who resists the idea of moving a statue of his ancestor. An adjoining reservation is key to the show, said Sierra Teller Ornelas, a writer-producer who is Navajo. "You just never see Indians on TV, and when you do, it's just one guy, and he has to transform into a wolf."

 
 
 
 
 
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1 Comments
 
 
Mac
Will Forte is believed to be the voice of the cantankerous Sea Captain since Seth Meyers moved from his attic to his in-laws' house. Thorn Birds on the mantle and a duck decoy with an attitude of sorts. And a Giant Lobster Nemesis. And the Emmy goes to-yeah,I know,John Oliver.
Aug 17, 2020   |  Reply
 
Zeke
They are almost two different categories.
Truly diverse in style!
Aug 29, 2020
 
 
 
 
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