“Hard Funny”: Channing Dongzi breaks Warner Bros. TV’s comedy business as studio sets up Amazon projects from Mindy Kaling and ‘Hacks’ duo

“If it’s a joke, I love it. If not, can’t wait to unpack it with you later,” said Ted LassoPerhaps accidentally highlighting two different variations of comedy – the dark dread side and the laugh out loud.

Channing Dungy, chairman and CEO, Warner Bros. Television Group, which produces Jason Sudeikis series as well as breakout comedy hits Night Court And Abbott ElementarySays we’re in a moment where “hard funny” is making a comeback.

“See it The Three StoogesIn the face of hard fun, it’s that instant thing that makes you laugh and you go away,” she tells Deadline.

Dungy, who runs the production studio friends And The big bang theory, believes that such shows are having a moment. “People are trying to figure out how we can do more shows that lean into that hard-edged point of view because the lines of comedy and drama have become a little bit blurred,” she says.

“As a country and a world, we’re going through some really tough, challenging times with the whole nine yards of Covid and the economy. When you look back Ted LassoWhat really became a breakthrough when we were at home in 2020, I think people are looking for things that make them smile and things that light them up a little bit and things that make them feel a sense of community,” he added.

For Dungey, the comedy coin has a few different sides; There are slightly more traditional sitcoms for broadcast networks and series for streaming and premium cable (including new projects in the works from Mindy Kaling at Amazon Hacks Producers Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs – see below).

The former, along with NBC Night Courtwhich was renewed for a second season after just four episodes, by ABC Abbott Primary, That scored a third season after impressive ratings growth, with the studio also responsible for CBS’ Young Sheldon And Bob Hurts is unstoppable and Fox’s Call Me Cat.

“With broadcast comedies, it’s a group of people you check in with every week that make you feel a little better about your world and make you laugh at the end of a long day. When you’re dealing with tough things, you check in to a place that whether it friends‘ couch, or Abbott Elementary teachers’ lounge, and suddenly you feel good you feel like you’re surrounded by people you know, and who make you feel good,” Dungy said.

From left: Lacreta, John Larroquette, Melissa Rauch, India de Beaufort and Kapil Talwalkar in ‘Night Court’

(Robert Trachtenberg/NBC/Warner Bros. Television)

Night Court Follows Judge Abby Stone (Melissa Rauch), daughter of the late Harry Stone, as she follows in her father’s footsteps to preside over the night shift of a Manhattan arraignment court that also includes former night court prosecutor Dan Fielding (John Larroquette).

NBC said the premiere has reached more than 25 million late-night viewers since its Jan. 17 launch, ranking as the number one broadcast premiere of the 2022-23 season in the 18-49 demo and total viewers.

Dr. Dangi Night Court It’s a “fertile setting” for a show but it “didn’t necessarily feel like you were treading on such hallowed ground”.

“There was definitely love for the show when it aired but it wasn’t one of those shows that had such an iconic touch base for so many people. People definitely remember John Larroquette and the Dan Fielding character, but the rest, there was some opportunity to play,” he added.

The original ended after nine seasons, with many believing it was shortened. “I would guess they probably understated it, because the ratings were hovering somewhere around 6.5,” Dungy joked.

Reboot culture these days is such that you’d be surprised if studios left any titles unturned growing pains And Living single As well as more controversial shows such as The Dukes of Hazzard. Dongzi acknowledged that there are some titles that he and his team pitch to writers under contract at Warner Bros. TV, and that they get a “fair amount” of incoming calls from writers and producers on older IP.

But he cautions, “The truth is, in my career, I’ve worked on many, many, many shows that were inspired by IP, and most of the shows didn’t succeed. If you have a great title, you can definitely market it and you can get a certain amount of people to show up because they either have a passion for the title. But there really has to be a reason for reboots or retellings to exist. Why is it important to tell this story now? What is the new perspective you are sharing with the audience? How do you talk about the world we live in and make the humor feel contemporary and real.”

Abbott Elementary

Abbott Elementary

ABC/Gilles Mingason

Another relatively new network comedy juggernaut to come out of the studio is Quinta Brunson’s Abbott primarywhich continued to pick up steam and ratings in its second season.

Branson created the series, set in a Philadelphia public school and starring Janine Tiggs alongside Williams, Janelle James, Lisa Ann Walter, Chris Perfetti, William Stanford Davis and Sheryl Lee Ralph.

Success is like a show, Dungy said Abbott Elementary Getting the “perfect mix” of actors. “It’s a lot about the chemistry between the actors and their comedic timing and how they play off each other,” he adds. “A lot of comedies don’t really succeed, because you don’t have that level of chemistry.”

Speaking of streaming, Warner Bros. TV produces Apple’s Jason Segal-fronted production shrink and HBO Max Sex life of college girls and Chuck Lorre How to become a bookie In addition to Ted Lasso.

Deadline may also reveal that it is developing two new projects for Amazon.

Kyle’s house A single camera comedy from Matt Warburton and Mindy Kaling. It follows a young and temperamental American streetwear designer, who is hired to reinvent a struggling Italian fashion label owned by a wealthy family of warring siblings in Rome. The Mindy Project exec producer Warburton will write and produce with Kaling, 3 Arts’ Howard Klein and co-executive produced by Jessica Kumai Scott.

Meanwhile, the age comes from Hacks Produced by Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs. The single-camera comedy Love, Vulnerability and Sweet Boy-ness and Star Downs and Star Downs and the cake Starring Rhys Mitchell. The trio will write the pilot and exec produce with Anilo set to direct the pilot.

Ted Lasso

Ted Lasso is the future

Ted Lasso is returning to Apple TV+ for its third season later this spring

The big question, however, is whether the match is over for the football comedy. Sudeikis has refused to publicly say whether the series is ending after three seasons, though it was originally set up as a three-season arc and many of its stars are set to say goodbye.

Some have suggested that Sudeikis was steadfast in the previous three seasons but that his stance may have softened more recently, a theory supported by Dongzi.

“What was Jason and Bill’s vision initially [Lawrence] When they went into the first season, there was a three-act structure. Then I think it becomes one of those things where you just start going with it and if you fall in love with that world and those characters, it’s hard to say goodbye,” Dungy said.

Either way, the former ABC and Netflix exec says he feels good about the show. “The end of the season, it ends beautifully. That is what we all do Ted Lasso Universe, I think fans will be really happy and excited. But there is a way to crack open a door. If we are lucky enough to do more, we can continue,” he added.

In the main hall Ted Lasso The series is over, however, so don’t expect a litany of spinoffs. While there are plenty of other characters that lead interesting lives and other areas of the pitch to me, spinoffs are a clever proposition. just remember friends spinoff joey.

“When you think Ted Lasso, you definitely think of that unforgettable character. when you think night court, You think of John Laroquette, and you think when The big bang theoryYou think of Sheldon. Young Sheldon It’s a perfect example of being able to create a spin off of a universe that actually works because you have a character at the center and a way of looking at that universe differently than what it was before. But I think when you’re doing a spin-off for the sake of a spin-off, that’s usually where you run into some trouble,” he says.

Multi-camera return

as Night Court As shown, multi-camera comedy is far from over. As Deadline highlighted earlier this month, CBS, with a Wayans family series, Fox, with a Patricia Heaton comedy, ABC, with a family comedy executive produced by Ty Burrell, and NBC with a new Mike O’Malley comedy. Lopez vs. Lopez, Everyone is moving forward with lots of cameras.

Dungy says that while single-camera comedies are more “trendy,” multi-cam has an economic advantage. “Multi-camera comedies have fallen out of favor a bit. The fact of the matter is that multi cameras are actually hard to do because part of it is like live theater. You really have to have actors who are comfortable and have that stage presence to be able to do this kind of thing live and on their feet, and that’s what’s fun about watching Melissa Rauch and John Larroquette go back and forth with each other.”

Fewer and younger writers gravitate to the form, but that makes finding the next Chuck Lorre more complicated. “I worry it’s becoming a lost art,” she says “But I am encouraged by its success Night CourtBecause maybe it will encourage other writers to experiment a bit more with multi-camera.”

Another thing that could encourage new writers to get involved is the entrance to the likes of HBO Max and Netflix. The former are considered their and the latter series viz sorry and launched recently That 90s show.

“When you look at all the streaming services and a lot of the top shows are like multi-camera comedies friends And The big bang theory… It’s almost inevitable that they introduce multi-cameras. It’s getting streamers willing to invest enough to launch and nurture something [new shows]”

There’s also the possibility that The CW will begin making orders under their new president of entertainment, Brad Schwartz.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how the CW unfolds. I feel like Brad and the team are getting their sea legs and figuring out exactly what they want the programming slate to be for the network, so we look forward to hearing more from them,” she says.

Next up for Warner Bros. is comedy TV How to become a bookieChuck Lorre’s first show for HBO Max starring Sebastian Maniscalco had its first table read last week. Sex life of college girls was renewed for a third season, Dungy’s team is working on a second season scooby doo spinoff VelmaAn adult animated comedy from Mindy Kaling and Charlie Grundy that was the streamer’s most-watched animated series debut and Starz’ bright valleyStarring Courteney Cox, Greg Kinnear and Mira Sorvino, which just finished production on its second season.

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