Upfronts 2010: IFC Unveils Original-Heavy Slate

Onion News Network, Todd Margaret lead biggest roster in network's history

IFC announced its biggest development slate in the network's history, headlined by the greenlit Onion News Network (ONN), an original half-hour adapted from the Peabody-winning online news broadcast, and The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, starring Arrested Development alums David Cross and Will Arnett.

ONN is slated to premiere first quarter next year while Todd Margaret will premiere this fall. ONN has a 10-episode order. Todd Margaret, an Office-esque workplace comedy, has an initial order of six episodes.

IFC also announced two acquisitions: the Kids in the Hall reunion series Death Comes to Town, premiering in August; and Dead Set, a satirical zombie horror series that takes place on the set of the U.K.'s Big Brother house, premiering in October.

The network has six original series in development, including a chat show with comedian and He's Just Not That Into You author Greg Behrendt, and a travel series with San Francisco author/blogger Broke-Ass Stuart.

To accompany its new programming push, IFC unveiled a new look and tagline, "Always On. Slightly Off," meant to capture IFC's "indie perspective," says Jennifer Caserta, executive VP and general manager of IFC.

IFC's audience is 70% male, young and affluent. The network divides them into two segments: "authentic influencer" and "responsible rebels." The former are the younger, early adopters and the latter are the grown-up version of their peers, still looking for the next cool thing while also holding jobs and raising families.

Current programming on IFC is a mix of independent films, acquisitions (re-runs of cult hits Arrested Development, Monty Python's Flying Circus) and original series (Dinner with the Band, The Whitest Kids U Know). Caserta is hoping to take the brand to the next level; evolving it beyond an indie film destination into a provider of "sharp, edgy and twisted" content.

"You still will see a great deal of independent film on our network," she says. "We want to build on our original programming strategy because it's worked for us in the past. And obviously that is the way that you can continue to refine and define your brand and be distinctive."

Caserta said the network had been in discussions with executives at The Onion for some time and that the satirical news operation was "cautious" about who they got into business with. ONN, a daily webcast, was launched in March 2007.

"Once IFC expressed interest," says Caserta, "I think that was when the idea of bringing it to television got very serious."

Original series in development are:

  • I Love the A.D.'s:An animated series that takes place during the "lost years of Jesus' early 20s while he's still figuring out what he wants to do with his life." Contemporary characters live out alternative takes on familiar biblical scenarios.
  • Variety Shac:A comedy series that revolves around the four members of an all female sketch comedy troupe.
  • Dieter Horn in Night Port: A spoof of 1980s action dramas including Miami Vice and Knight Rider, the series has a German criminal charged with fighting crime or facing a lifetime in jail.
  • Jobbed - A workplace comedy about a pink-slipped dot-commer who goes to work at the East Village branch of the Manhattan Department of Labor's Unemployment Office.
  • There Might Be Cake - Greg Behrendt, author of He's Just Not That Into You, hosts a weekly chat with famous comedians about their careers and how they've achieved success.
  • Young, Broke & Beautiful - An unconventional travel show hosted by blogger Broke-Ass Stuart, who goes in search of the best places for the young and broke to live beautifully.