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Charlie Sanders cast in MTV comedy Death Valley

Feb 20, 2015

MTV Picks Up Two Scripted Comedy Series

MTV continues to rapidly expand its scripted series portfolio by greenlighting two new half-hour series, the coming-of-age comedy That Girl and horror comedy Death Valley. Each has received a 12-episode order. After reentering the scripted arena last year with the series order to The Hard Times of RJ Berger, which was recently renewed for a second season, MTV has stepped up its scripted efforts, especially after the appointment of David Janollari as EVP of scripted development in January. In the past 4 months, MTV has picked up a whopping 5 new scripted series, dramas Skins and Teen Wolf, comedies That Girl and Death Valley and animated comedy Good Vibes. That is 2.5 times as many new scripted series as the CW ordered in May and one shy of the 6 Fox ordered for this coming season. "Our goal creatively is diversity - to offer choices with drama, comedy, animation and, of course, reality," Janollari said. And the network is not done. Janollari said his team is in development on a lot of new scripted projects and is planning to order more pilots in the next couple of months.

As for the newly picked-up series, That Girl was created by Lauren Iungerich whom Janollari called "one of the most authentic young female writers," and Death Valley is "a very inventive stylistically comedy" from Scrubs alum Eric Weinberg, Janollari added. Here are the shows' detailed descriptions:

THAT GIRL

That Girl is an irreverent look at the conflict, chaos and comedy that is contemporary teenage life through the eyes of 15 year-old Jenna Hamilton, who launches from social misfit to "that girl" when an accident leads everyone to believe she tried to commit suicide. Now she must deal with the stigma of being "that girl" - the girl who tried to kill herself - while also dealing with her crush on the most popular guy in school, a mean girl who wants to squash her, a weirdo guidance counselor, parents who just don't get it, and lots and lots of guy drama. Being "that girl" will eventually be the catalyst for amazing change, but not without some missteps along the way. In the wake of Jenna's prominence, she will redefine what being "that girl" means to her... cause even losers can have a fairy tale! That Girl will showcase specific incidents in our formative years that define us -- sometimes for the best and sometimes for the worst. It explores teen themes such a jealousy, body image, parental guidance, boundaries, friendship and sex. That Girl was created and executive produced by Lauren Iungerich (ABC Family's 10 Things I Hate About You.) The pilot was directed by Millicent Shelton (30 Rock).

DEATH VALLEY

Death Valley is a scripted horror-comedy that captures the exploits of the men and women of the Undead Task Force (UTF) - an elite branch of the LAPD that was formed in 2009 when the San Fernando Valley became overrun by zombies, vampires and werewolves. While scientists frantically search for an answer to what caused the outbreak, the UTF is responsible for eradicating the monsters, or at least containing them to the Valley. Documenting each case and paranormal encounter is a daring camera crew that is embedded with the UTF from the beginning to end of every shift. As a result, the documentary crew becomes central to the storytelling and is as much a part of the action as the young cops and the undead they encounter. Always alternating between humor and horror, Death Valley at times borrows from the conventions of reality television creating a visual style that is a blend of follow documentary and sci-fi action. The series stars an ensemble cast including Caity Lotz (who plays "Stephanie" on Mad Men) Tania Raymonde (who played "Alex Rousseau" on LOST) and Charlie Sanders (Funny or Die's The Big Dog). Death Valley is executive produced by Austin Reading and Julie Kellman Reading for Liquid Theory. Eric Weinberg and Tim Healy will also serve as executive producers, along with MTV's Tony DiBari.
LA General

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Splitsider names UCBT performers amongst Comedy's 17 Favorite Comedians

Feb 20, 2015

Comedy's 17 Favorite Comedians 

Who are the best working comedians today? Who's creating the best material, influencing the most people and is the flat-out funniest? You could base the answer on a number of factors, be it ratings and box office success or Twitter followers and YouTube views. But I was more interested in who the people who look at and create comedy all day, every day think are really working at the highest level. The people who actually are actively getting comedic content out there, whose lives revolve around comedy. So I asked them.

I asked 12 people in the comedy business who their favorite current comedians are. The resulting list has the names you'd expect on it, but also some you might be surprised by.

In order to compile the list, I had people send me a list of 10 names in order from favorite on down. I assigned each choice a point value, with a #1 pick netting 10 points, a #2 pick netting 9 points and so on. I then added the points up. It was pretty straightforward, as I am no scientist.

Here are the judges who were kind enough to contribute lists to the survey:

-Eric Appel, Writer/Director, Funny or Die
-Owen Burke, Creative Executive, Gary Sanchez Productions
-Neil Campbell, Artistic Director, UCB Theatre LA
-Mike Farah, President of Production, Funny or Die
-Sam Grossman, Director of Original Programing and Development, Comedy Central
-Hallie Haglund, Writer, The Daily Show
-Chris Kelly, Writer/Director, Onion News Network
-Anthony King, Artistic Director, UCB Theatre NY
-Rob Kutner, Writer, Conan
-Christine Nangle, Writer, Saturday Night Live
-Sam Reich, President of Original Content, CollegeHumor
-Ricky Van Veen, Co-Founder and CEO, CollegeHumor

And now, onto the list:

15 (three-way tie): Maria Bamford

Maria Bamford is an excellent standup, and what makes her sets so unique is her voice. One of the best voice actresses around, she's voiced characters in shows such as Home Movies, Daria, Tom Goes to the Mayor and Hey Arnold! In her standup, she utilizes her voice to portray her dysfunctional family, amongst other characters, making her standup surreal yet personal.

15 (three-way tie): Hannibal Buress

15 (three-way tie): Chelsea Peretti 

If you don't follow standup comedy too closely, you probably recognize Chelsea Peretti from her great guest appearances on Louie and The Sarah Silverman Program. But she's an amazing standup and writer in her own right, and she's also been behind some things you've probably heard of, such as Black People Love Us and the New York Rejection Line. Her profile has been steadily rising for a while now, and it seems like it's only a matter of time before someone gives her her own show.

14: Brett Gelman

Brett Gelman has become one of Funny or Die's go-to actors, and with good reason. Gelman always seems a little unhinged, a little on the edge of doing something that nobody else involved in the shoot planned on. He's got a certain controlled creepiness to him that he expertly utilizes in videos such as his Mr. Celebrity series and Death Bed Subtext. And clearly, the higher ups at Funny or Die have taken notice: Gelman's character in The Other Guys was absolutely scene-stealing and one of the best parts of the entire movie.

13: Donald Glover

Donald Glover is one of those people who has so much ambition it makes everyone else seem lazy in comparison. What has he done in the past couple years? Let's review: his comedy group Derrick is one of the most popular sketch groups on the internet, a popularity they used to help finance their movie Mystery Team, which was sold to Roadside Attractions at Sundance. Donald was also a writer at 30 Rock, a job he quit only to be cast as Troy in NBC's Community  mere days later. He started doing standup only about a year ago, but he's already had his own Comedy Central special. Oh, and he's also a musician, naturally, selling out shows under the name Childish Gambino. And what have you done this year?

12: John Mulaney

John Mulaney started out doing standup and making videos with writing partner Nick Kroll. Now, he's scored one of the most coveted gigs in comedy: writing at Saturday Night Live. And last season, he appeared on Weekend Update as a featured correspondent. When not working on the show, he's tirelessly touring and writing, and a move either up the ladder at SNL or into movies seems inevitable. And with a natural delivery honed on the stage, he's a natural choice for the writer/anchor role that people like Tina Fey and Seth Meyers have filled in the past. Could we be looking at Seth Meyers 'replacement as head writer and Weekend Update anchor when he eventually leaves the show? It wouldn't be too much of a surprise.

11: Jon Glaser

7 (four-way tie): Daniel Kitson

7 (four-way tie): Conan O'Brien

7 (four-way tie): Jon Stewart

7 (four-way tie): Ricky Gervais

6: Aziz Ansari


In the past few years, it's been tough to miss Aziz Ansari. Maybe you saw him in Parks and Recreation as the obnoxious chauvinist with a heart of gold Tom Haverford. Or in Funny People as the obnoxious standup RAAAAAAAANDY. Or maybe on TMZ as a part of Kanye West's entourage, or as the host of the MTV Movie Awards, or in Flight of the Conchords, Get Him to the Greek, I Love You, Man or Observe and Report. And he's primed to only become more ubiquitous in the future, as he's got a three-picture development deal with Judd Apatow that'll have him cementing his place as one of the top comedic performers working today.

5: Patton Oswalt 

Patton Oswalt is the definition of a comic's comic. He tours all the time, consistently writing some of the best standup material out there; his standup albums are veritable masterclasses in the art form. He's one of Hollywood's go-to punch up writers, having a hand in jokes in more movies that you would believe. And he's also a supremely versatile actor, bouncing between roles in projects as disparate as King of Queens, Big Fan, Ratatouille and The United States of Tara. Essentially, he manages to do a number of things brilliantly that most ambitious comedians struggle to nail one of.

4: Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler is often credited with breaking through some sort of comedic glass ceiling, opening the door for other women to kick off a female comedy renaissance. Maybe! All I know is that regardless of gender, she's one of the funniest people on the planet. Coming off of eight years as the most consistently funniest cast member on Saturday Night Live, she then proved that she could create a character worth building a sitcom around with Parks and Recreation's  Leslie Knope. Leslie is goofy, earnest, naive and lovable all at once, a significant feat, and one that keeps people coming back week after week.

3: Zach Galifianakis

2: Stephen Colbert

1: Louis C.K.
 
LA General

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Donald Glover & Aubrey Plaza featured in Elle Magazine

Feb 20, 2015

A Few Good Men 

We proudly present three more reasons to pay homage to the mid-'80s, with the next crop of bright young things.

Clark Duke, 25: The Straight Man

Dave Franco, 25: The Breakout

Donald Glover, 27: The Quadruple Threat
Comedian, former 30 Rock writer, star of NBC's Community, and serious rapper. (Well, not too serious: His album Culdesac features lyrics a la "crowd at my shows more mixed than Rashida Jones.")

Do you think you can keep all this up?

It's the same as asking, Do you think you'll live forever? No. But I'm going to try! Also, I'm working on a device that will make me live forever.

When did you realize you'd crossed over into adulthood?

The first time my dentist said, "You have to start flossing. Gum activity is related to heart activity." They never say that to kids.  That's legit adult shit. 

25 Quarterbacks
 

When Elle touched down 25 years ago, Wham's "Careless Whisper" topped the charts, Back to the Future ruled, The Cosby Show was number one -- and a new generation of smart, talented, game-changing artists, filmmakers, actresses, and activists were busy being born.  What will these 25-somethings do with the next 25 years?  We can't wait to see.

1. Anna Kendrick: actress, scene-stealer

2. Lauren Bush: activist, pedigreed designer

3. Gabourey Sidibe: actress, Hollywood cliche slayer

4. Lea Michele: actress, Gleek heroine

5. Aurel Schmidt: artist, NYC scenester

6. Susanna Lau (aka Susie Bubble): blogger, UK stylephile

7. Chloe Malle: journalist, high-profile offspring

8. Lindsey Vonn: skier, Olympic medalist

9. Megan Fox: actress, bombshell

10. Sarah Lane: ballerina, American Ballet Theatre soloist

11. Dianna Agron: actress, Gleek convert

12. Greta Gerwig: actress, mumblecore queen

13. Grace & Mamie Gummer: actresses, Meryl Streep's progeny

14. Amanda Blank: singer and rapper, indie phenom

15. Meghan McCain: blogger, GOP rabble-rouser

16. Melanie Fiona: singer, Motown reviver

17. Camilla Belle: actress, fashion muse

18. Isabel Lucas: actress, eco warrior

19. Aubrey Plaza: actress, (deadpan) funny girl

Credits: Seth Rogen heartbreaker in Judd Apatow's Funny People; bone-dry office intern April on NBC's Parks and Recreation

To do before she's 30: "I want to have as many babies as I can.  I'll just crank them out on hiatuses."

Age she feels: "Professionally, I feel like a little baby who doesn't know how to eat.  Socially, like a 60-year-old because I never go out."

20. Amanda Seyfried: actress, box-office sweetheart

21. Janelle Monae: singer, Diddy protege

22. Mila Kunis: actress, male obsession

23. Olivia Thirlby: actress, indie ingenue

24. Lauren Conrad: ex-reality TV star, novelist

25. Bar Refaeli: model, "the body" circa 2010
LA General

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