[05/23/05 - 12:00 AM]
Comedy Central Joins Forces with Game Show Guru Michael Davies to Develop Series for "Jeopardy" King Ken Jennings

[via press release from Comedy Central]

COMEDY CENTRAL Joins Forces With Game Show Guru Michael Davies To Develop Series For "Jeopardy" King Ken Jennings

NEW YORK, May 23, 2005 -- Answer: Develop a game show for COMEDY CENTRAL. Question: Now that Ken Jennings has cemented his status as the modern-day know-it-all, what's next? Jennings, who has forgotten more useless nuggets of information than most people will ever learn, will parlay his geek-to-chic notoriety and encyclopedic knowledge of the world-at-large into a new game show for COMEDY CENTRAL that will be developed by one of the genre's foremost authorities, Michael Davies, it was announced today by Lauren Corrao, senior vice president, original programming & head of development, COMEDY CENTRAL.

The network that transformed a curmudgeonly former Nixon speechwriter into a modern day, Emmy-toting icon for the hipster set and single-handedly revived the game show genre with the 1996 launch of "Win Ben Stein's Money," plans to begin work on the series in late summer with an eye towards launching the strip during 4Q 2005 or 1Q 2006. Details of the top-secret project being developed by the dream team pairing of Davies and Jennings will be revealed at a future date (or as soon as the game show groupies ferret out the format and set the blogs afire with their scurrilous "scoops").

"Research has shown that our viewers are clamoring for more shows hosted by software engineers from Utah and, fortunately, Ken was available and had a screen test handy," said Corrao. "However, be careful what you wish for. Our audience likes to think of themselves as one of the smartest around and I suspect that Ken, through and during the show, will put them in their place and illustrate how little they actually know." Adding, "I'm honestly thrilled to be working with Ken and Michael, who has proven time and again to have his finger on the pulse of America?despite being British."

"My entire career has been focused on developing hit shows for COMEDY CENTRAL, especially when I was working for ABC" said Davies. "The greatest thing about the Ken Jennings development is that it hasn't been rejected by anyone else?and that it features a software engineer from Utah." Adding, "As to the format, I'm giving nothing away. Except it might feature questions?and answers."

"I've been in love with game shows as far back as I can remember," said Jennings. "So the chance to do this show, along with Michael Davies and COMEDY CENTRAL, no less, is like a dream come true for me."

Instrumental in bringing "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" to U.S. television, on which he continues to serve as Executive Producer, Embassy Row Chairman Michael Davies has been a key figure in transforming the television landscape and bringing alternative ideas to the mainstream and has established himself as one of the leaders in the fast-growing alternative and reality television business.

In addition to the Emmy-winning "Millionaire," Davies has overseen the development of ABC's "Super Millionaire," "Wife Swap" (with RDF Media), "Whose Line is It Anyway?" and "Pepsi's Play For A Billion" (both for ABC and The WB), as well as "Studio 7" for The WB, "2 Minute Drill" for ESPN, the CableACE Award-winning game show "Debt" (Lifetime), the Emmy-winning children's series "Disney Presents Bill Nye the Science Guy" and the original development of the "Survivor" format in the United States (with UK indie Planet 24).

Davies' relationship with COMEDY CENTRAL can be traced back to 1996 when, as Senior Vice President, Development for Buena Vista Productions he shepherded the development of the Emmy Award-winning series "Win Ben Stein's Money." He also oversaw the pilot for "The Man Show" during his time as Executive Vice President, Alternative Series and Specials, for ABC Entertainment. Much to COMEDY CENTRAL's delight, ABC passed on the beer and babes fest starring Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla, which enjoyed a seven-season run on the all-comedy channel.

In June 2004 Salt Lake City software engineer Ken Jennings parlayed his childhood dream of appearing on "Jeopardy!" into a six-month odyssey, winning 74 consecutive games and $2.52 million, both American game show records, and captivating the country as people wondered if anyone would ever best the new game show king. The streak made Jennings a 2004 TV folk hero and he made numerous television appearances including "The Tonight Show," "The Late Show with David Letterman," "Good Morning America," "Live with Regis and Kelly" and "Sesame Street." Barbara Walters named him one of the ten most fascinating people of the year. The Christian Science Monitor called him "the king of Trivia Nation" and Slate magazine dubbed him "the Michael Jordan of trivia, the Seabiscuit of geekdom."

In the time since his "Jeopardy!" streak, Jennings has traveled the country speaking about the importance of learning at college campuses and corporate events and has co-invented two trivia games soon to hit shelves: the Can You Beat Ken? board game from University Games and Quizzology, a CD trivia game from Major Games. Jennings book about his bizarre "Jeopardy!" adventures and about the phenomenon of trivia in American culture will be released by Random House in 2006.

Michael Davies and Ken Jennings are executive producers. Lou Wallach will serve as executive in charge of production for COMEDY CENTRAL.

COMEDY CENTRAL, the only all-comedy network, currently is seen in more than 87 million homes nationwide. COMEDY CENTRAL is owned by Comedy Partners, a wholly-owned division of MTV Networks. COMEDY CENTRAL is a registered trademark of Comedy Partners. COMEDY CENTRAL's Internet address is http://www.comedycentral.com.

  [may 2005]  


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