I've just been tipped off that 30 Rock producers Tina Fey and Robert Carlock have just received a straight-to-series episode order for a new comedy starring Ellie Kemper. The premise? Girls who've been abducted.
I'm told NBC executives aren't fans of the script, which will likely receive a 13-episode order rather than the standard six, and are worried that the premise might be offensive. Carlock and Fey are co-writers on the project, and wrote it as a spec months back. NBC had been sitting on the script for a few weeks, until pressure from Fey and Carlock's WME agents forced them to make a commitment, lest they lose the project to another network. Universal Television (where Fey and Carlock's producing deal is based) and 3 Arts (the management and production company that reps Fey and serves as a producer on her projects) have already sold two successful series outside of NBC: The Mindy Project, which NBC famously passed on and is now in its second season on Fox, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which just received a full season pickup, also on Fox.
Kemper is no stranger to darker comedic roles: her busted pilot from the 2013 season, Brenda Forever, was known for getting gummed up at NBC due to its edgier scenes—namely one involving a young Brenda getting caught for masturbating against a desk while at school.
Carlock and Fey have already set up two other comedy projects this year: a pilot at NBC with writer Colleen McGuinness, as well as a FOX project with 30 Rock writer Matt Hubbard, that already has a series commitment.
I've reached out to NBCUniversal for comment and have yet to hear back.
UPDATE: Despite reports from Deadline, Variety and THR, who all used the same NBC press release in regards to the show centering around a girl who escaped from a doomsday cult, I've now read the original spec script which backs up what our tipster told us: that the original premise did center around a girl who was abducted by an Ariel Castro-type abductor, and then escaped. According to a second source close to the project, the script has gone through significant changes via its producers and NBC to make the material slightly less inflammatory.
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