NBC orders 'Thank God You're Here' celebrity improv competition
By Christopher Rocchio, 01/19/2007
How good are celebrities at performing sketch comedy?
NBC has announced that it has ordered six episodes of Thank God You're Here, a new one-hour unscripted series that showcases the improvisational ingenuity of celebrities as they try to outperform each other in various outlandish situations. The series, which is from FremantleMedia North America, the production company that produces Fox's American Idol, already filmed a pilot in November and production on the remaining episodes is expected to resume in February.
"This series is basically every adventurous performer's dream and we think the viewers can vicariously enjoy how they respond to their unforeseen predicaments," said NBC Entertainment executive Craig Plestis. "It has a daring, seat-of-your pants feel that's proven to be a big hit in its original Australian version."
Thank God You're Here premiered in April 2006 in Australia, and was the most successful new show in the land down under last year, attracting an average of 1.7 million viewers after its first few episodes. The series is currently in its third season in Australia, and FremantleMedia also produces versions in The Netherlands, Germany, Russia, Sweden, The United Kingdom, Portugal, Belgium, Norway, Israel and Denmark.
In each episode of the series, celebrity guests enter different doors that lead to different comedy sketches they know nothing about, creating a mixture of Whose Line Is It Anyway? and Let's Make a Deal. Each time a celebrity enters one of the silly situations -- everything from operating rooms to Egyptian tombs -- they are simply greeted with the line, "Thank God you're here!," and then are on their own to leave the audience in stitches.
"This format has proven a comedic phenomenon in many countries both on-air and online, where clips from the show are frequent popular downloads," says Cecile Frot-Coutaz, CEO of Fremantle North America and executive producer of the series. "We're very excited to be working with NBC... [and] bringing this highly-successful, irreverent comedy format to American audiences."
Produced and hosted by David Alan Grier (In Living Color), judged by Dave Foley (News Radio) and filmed in-front of a "live studio audience," Thank God You're Here's pilot episode featured Jennifer Coolidge (American Pie), Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle), Joel McHale (The Soup) and Wayne Knight (Seinfeld).