Last summer, the Funny or Die team (Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Chris Henchy and Judd Apatow) received a big vote of confidence in the forms of capital investment and broadcasting agreements from HBO. They had just worked together on the production of Eastbound & Down -- and if you have not watched this surprisingly magnificent miniseries starring Danny McBride as washed-up pitcher Kenny Powers (the sixth and final episode aired this past Sunday), then you should find yourself a TV with HBO and watch it right this very moment and it will make your weekend that much more enjoyable. Anyhow. So, yes, of course, seeing how well that went, HBO agreed to invest in the FOD guys and commission 10 original half-hours of programming from them.
We're starting to see this come to fruition this week.
Paul Scheer (MTV's Human Giant) announced he'd begun production on "a MINI mini series" with Rob Riggle (Comedy Central's The Daily Show) called Designated Driver.
And fans of Brett Gelman will be heartily pleased to know that his catstravaganza, "1,000 Cats," will be filmed on Saturday afternoon for FOD/HBO. At The Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles. (Fun fact: The same stage to be used in May for NBC's America's Got Talent) As Gelman says in his Facebook event invite for the event: "Pleases come. And if you can, please come dressed in some sort of formal wear. For we will be getting some shots of you, and plus how else would you come dressed for 1000 Cats." How else, indeed. Seriously, though: Read my review of Brett Gelman's 1,000 Cats if you need further proof. So that's at least another of the 10 half-hours.
Sounds like the FOD guys already are living up to the promises they made back in June 2008 when they first announced the deal with HBO. Here's what Ferrell told Variety then: "We do know we want it to be in the same family of the comedy that we're doing on the website -- just a wide range of anything from a funny offbeat talkshow to a maybe more-traditional-type sitcom to a show with puppets," he said. "We don't want to limit ourselves in any way, which is what we love about the stuff that we do for Funny or Die. The spitballing on these ideas is going to be the fun part of all this." And this is what McKay said: "Our idea in going into Funny or Die was that it would be a kind of clubhouse for us and friends of ours who could come and try stuff that they couldn't do as easily in movies or TV. And it was also about us getting to find new talent." If this is how they're starting, then I cannot wait to see what else makes the slate of HBO/FOD programming to come in 2009-2010.