It has the potential to be more than a PR ploy: "NBC Comedy Playground," announced today, is partly a celebrity-enhanced bit of reality TV, and partly an initiative to give new comedy writers the chance to take concepts "from pitch to broadcast."
Mostly it's a promotional gambit that could benefit unknown comedy writers.
According to NBC, an A-list advisory board of writers/actors/producers with NBC connections-- including Aziz Ansari, Jason Bateman, Robert Carlock, Sean Hayes, Mindy Kaling, Jason Katims, Josh Lieb, Seth Meyers, Todd Milliner, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Mike Schur, Adam Scott and Mike Shoemaker --will help pick the winners of a contest to create original shows for broadcast on NBC during summer 2015.
The idea is to seek talent "beyond film schools and NY/LA comedy clubs," according to a NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke.
Rules and eligibility requirements are online at www.nbccomedyplayground.com. For starters, writers may submit ideas for digital and/or network comedy shows beginning May 1. Submit up to two video samples, 5-10 minutes each of pre-existing work plus up to two video pitches, 2-5 minutes each.
The network will fund the production of pilots by up to 10 finalists. Two winners will be selected by the celebrity advisors to have their show broadcast on NBC. Others will be posted to a website.
With luck, it could turn up talent that outlasts the summer.
Joanne Ostrow: 303-954-1830, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/ostrowdp