'Colbert,’ Slate Lead Comedy’s Big Week

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This week, Comedy Central will trot out fresh episodes of franchise South Park, roll out the second season of animated series Drawn Together and debut The Colbert Report, featuring Stephen Colbert, the faux senior reporter from The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.

“Yes, it’s a big week for us,” said Lauren Corrao, executive vice president of original programming and development.

While keeping a watchful eye on the performances of those entries, Corrao’s gaze in the months ahead also will be fixed on the network’s broadest development slate to date — one that, with more than a dozen contenders, should yield three or four new series next year.

“We’ve been increasing our development the past couple of years and this is the largest to date. That means we have more depth and can be more picky,” she said. “We have character programs, scripted formats, personality-driven shows and animation.”

Corrao is enthused about a half-hour single-camera narrative starring Sarah Silverman, who’ll portray an eccentric woman with no discernible goals. “Sarah Silverman is an unique performer with charm and a potty mouth and irreverent attitude,” said Corrao, who noted that the comedienne has appeal to both men and women. “She says a lot of things most women wouldn’t. We’re interested in bringing more diversity to our audience.”

The network also plans to send out Lewis Black to investigate people in the heartland in Red State Diaries. “As we found out on election day, people hold a lot of different views than those in the blue, liberal states,” she said.

Comedy viewers could also get a look at Gay Robot, a live-action adaptation of a character featured on Adam Sandler’s comedy album Shhh … Don’t Tell.

Other pilot pickups include: Public Nuisance, featuring Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), taking on hot social topics; Wee on America, starring Jason “Wee-Man” Acuna of MTV: Music Television’s Jackass, challenging Americans in physical and mental contests; and Not Another High School Show, which will send up teen TV fare like The O.C.

Corrao said some decisions will be made before year-end, including calls on whether to renew The Showbiz Show With David Spade and Too Late with Adam Carolla. Other pilots won’t be ready until 2006.

She noted that the fourth season of Reno 911! could be moved up from its usual summer start.

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