Tuned In in Hollywood: 'Kroll' takes clever approach

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PASADENA, Calif. -- "Portlandia" fans take note: "Kroll Show" (10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Comedy Central) may be for you. Starring Nick Kroll ("The League"), this new sketch comedy show is executive produced and written in part by "Portlandia" executive producer/director Jonathan Krisel.

While "Portlandia" is all about skewering hipster culture, "Kroll Show" sets it sights on more general popular culture. The show's opening credits telegraph its intent with the show's title aping assorted popular logos from TV and consumer goods.

Recurring sketches include "PubLIZity," a dead-on parody of reality shows, and "Wheels Ontario," a parody of Canadian teen soaps (think: "Degrassi the Next Generation").

Those are some specific, niche-type targets but "Kroll Show" sends up these miniscule genres with gleeful attention to detail.

So how does this sketch show differ from others (besides being funny)? Mr. Kroll said it's the writers' approach.

"It's less premise driven and more character and genre driven," he said at a press conference last week.

The show's observation of the specifics of the genres it mimics is astounding. The "PubLIZity" sketch ends up spinning off a supporting character and then that show spawns a spinoff and it keeps going. Producers said they paid particular attention to the look of the parodies.

"All our different reality shows have different looks," Mr. Krisel said. "We have some that have the Bravo-Magical Elves classy look down to the down and dirty VH1 shows like 'Celebreality.'"

As for "Wheels," Mr. Krisel said the absurdity of parodying something so niche was the appeal.

"It's not the most obvious thing to do," he said. "It's more exciting because there are fans of 'Degrassi.' Every joke is about Canada and it's just fun but it's a weird premise to take on."

For an early look at "Kroll Show," visit comedycentral.com for the full first episode.

BET spoofs reality TV

After successful sketches during the past two "BET Awards," Kevin Hart and some of his showbiz buddies have created a faux reality show, "Real Husbands of Hollywood" (10 p.m. Tuesday), a spoof of reality series like "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills."

This time it's the husbands behaving badly in a series that's not scripted but is outlined.

"This show actually was something I wanted to do because it's so different," Mr. Hart said at a press conference last week. "Not only is it different for me, but it's different for BET, and BET, they're changing. It's a fake reality television show. We're mocking what everybody makes fun of on a regular basis, and we're just doing it to where now people can put a picture to what we've been saying for years."

Mr. Hart's co-stars include Nick Cannon, Boris Kodjoe, Duane Martin, J.B. Smoove and Robin Thicke.

"We definitely have an outline, a template, where our writers, our producers, make sure that we have a story," he said. "Within that story, because you're dealing with comedians and you're dealing with actors who are bringing so much to the material, we have room to improv."

Another 'Glee Project'?

So far Oxygen has been silent about the prospects for a third season of "The Glee Project," the reality competition that finds new cast members for Fox's "Glee."

In recent years, summer series "The Glee Project" has been more entertaining than "Glee" itself, and it's one of the few reality competitions that's unrelentingly upbeat and positive.

Oxygen president Jason Klarman said he's waiting to see whether Fox renews "Glee" so he can have the option of ordering a third season of "Glee Project."

"We love the show," he said. "This unscripted spinoff of a scripted series on another network, there are a lot of hurdles for us to get over and I'm super proud of my team for being able to pull this off as well as they have. This is just another hurdle and the question is we have to figure out what's [going to happen and] no one is going to rush that decision for us. ... The tail can't wag the dog, but we have our fingers crossed."

If Fox doesn't renew "Glee" until May, then there's no way Oxygen could get a season of "Glee Project" on the air this summer, but Fox Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly said an early renewal is still possible.

"That is a real possibility," Mr. Reilly said. "We're gonna negotiate now for the fifth season and beyond. So we're gonna talk about those things now."

Channel surfing

History's American version of "Top Gear" returns with a new season at 9 p.m. Jan. 29. ... Meredith Vieira has decided to leave as host of syndicated game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" after 11 years, per Deadline.com. Search is on for a new host for next season.

On the web

Read more coverage from the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Tuned In Journal at post-gazette.com/tv.


A portion of this column originally appeared online in the Tuned In Journal blog. Post-Gazette TV writer Rob Owen is attending the Television Critics Association winter press tour. Follow RobOwenTV at Twitter or Facebook. You can reach him at 412-263-2582 or rowen@post-gazette.com.


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