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Comedy Central Eyes New Scripted, Animated Series

9/22/2002 8:00 PM Eastern

Comedy Central has a number of original scripted and animated series in development by its recently restructured original programming and development department.

That unit, now headed by 10-year MTV: Music Television veteran Lauren Corrao, is looking to boost the network's original programming slate with several series and comedy specials that will help build ratings.

Corrao, whose credits at MTV include development of The Ben Stiller Show
and The Real World, said Comedy has significantly increased its programming budget this year. She expects several new projects to launch over the next several months, including a scripted series that could bow as movie, although she would not reveal show specifics.

"We're also developing several original animated and reality series," she added. "We're looking for the high-profile, big splash, big hit kind of show that's edgy and irreverent."

The new programming would help fortify the network's weekday 10 p.m. "primetime" block and will complement existing shows such as The Man Show, South Park
and the more recent Crank Yankers.

"What we're trying to do it get as many original hits that we possibly can in that time period," she said. "Traditionally, cable has chosen that time because you're not up against the majority of primetime comedies on broadcast television.

"It's an opportunity for those people who can't get comedy on primetime after 10 to continue watching comedy."

Corrao said the network's ambitious original-programming development plans are going forward, despite reports that Comedy may be up for sale. AOL Time Warner Inc. is in very preliminary talks with partner Viacom Inc. about selling its half of the 80.1 million-subscriber network.

"At this moment, it's only a rumor for a potential for sale, but the board has fully supported an increase in more programming [dollars], particularly for original programming development," Corrao.

Sharp on board

As part of the department's restructuring, the network hired former Broadway Video executive Jim Sharp as vice president, development and original programming. Sharp, who reports to Correo, oversees original pilots and series from the West Coast.

Vice president of development and original programming Lou Wallach also reports to Corrao.

"James brings a lot of experience in working in comedy programming, both in reality and scripted, and he has great relationship with writers and knows how to produce a show," Corrao said.

Former network vice president of West Coast development Mike Maddocks will produce a pilot for the network, based on his own original concept.

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