This year's annual TCA summer press tour was a bit of a coming-out party for the Independent Film Channel.
When IFC debuted in 1994, it was primarily a destination for edgy arthouse movies. Now IFC is making a major push to get more involved in original programming, and the network came to TCA ready to show off three new comedies made with some of the biggest names in the business, including an eight-episode "Kids in the Hall" reunion.
It began its TCA presentation by announcing "Portlandia," a short-based comedy series starring "Saturday Night Live's" Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, guitarist in the indie band Sleater Kinney.
"Portlandia" is the first time an "SNL" cast member worked on another television project while appearing on the legendary sketch show. "Portlandia" is produced by "SNL" executive producer Lorne Michaels and begins production later this month. It will appear on IFC in 2011.
IFC turned to another comedy troupe to prepare a show for the upcoming season. "Death Comes to Town" is a reunion for the members of the Canadian sketch team "Kids in the Hall." It tells the story of a small town murder mystery. IFC acquired the American broadcasting rights to the show, which originally aired in Canada on the CBC from January to March 2010.
"Death Comes to Town" will debut on IFC August 20.
David Cross, who starred in the critically acclaimed Fox sitcom "Arrested Development," also has a comedy premiering on IFC in the upcoming season, "The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret." Cross plays Margaret, an American business man who's sent to England to market a terrible energy drink. "The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret" will be Cross' first reunion with his "Arrested Development" co-star Will Arnett, who plays his boss.
"The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret" is a co-production between IFC and RDF Television. It will air on IFC and Channel Four in England. Cross said IFC was a good fit for the show, because its desire to reach younger viewers with original programming meant they gave him a wide berth creatively.
"IFC saw the pilot and were genuinely very enthusiastic, they were saying basically you do what you want … it's a perfect fit," Cross said.
Cross said "Todd Margaret" is very plot-driven, only six episodes have been ordered so far, but Cross said fans will be left hanging if the show isn't renewed.
"I could easily end at a third series or a fifth series, I have plans for both," Cross said.
Last week, Arnett told TheWrap that the much-discussed and long-awaited "Arrested Development" movie is "definitely happening" and that there were meetings this week about getting started. For his part, Cross isn't worried about a film version of "Arrested Development" getting in the way of his work on "Todd Margaret."
"Until I'm sitting in a theater watching the movie I won't believe it," Cross said.
"The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret" premieres on IFC Oct. 1.
IFC has one other comedy in the works. The network will debut a televised version of the online Onion News Network parody broadcasts next year. IFC is also planning to expand into other types of original programming including non-fiction shows.
Previously: "TLC Sets a Date With Sarah Palin, Unveils Polygamy Reality Show."