Well, that didn’t take long.
Saturday Night Live vets Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah — who learned earlier this week that their comedic services were no longer needed on the late-night sketch series — have both scored pilot deals at Showtime, the network announced on Thursday at the TCA Summer Press Tour.
Killam will star in the tentatively titled Mating, which is a comedy anthology series that focuses on a freshly divorced guy who got married at a young age and is now trying to navigate a much-changed, complicated dating world. Mating is being executive-produced by Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights) and Stu Zicherman (The Americans), with Zicherman writing the pilot. The concept is to feature a different protagonist each season.
Pharoah, meanwhile, will headline the half-hour comedy White Famous, which is being executive-produced by Jamie Foxx, Tom Kapinos (Californication), and Tim Story (Barbershop). Story will direct the pilot, which will be written by Kapinos. (Foxx brainstormed the idea for the show.) The series revolves around a talented, rising African-American comedian, Floyd Mooney (Pharoah), who is trying to hold on to his credibility as he becomes mainstream popular, or “white famous.”
During a Showtime executive panel, president/CEO David Nevins said the conversations about these projects have been with the actors, not with SNL overlord Lorne Michaels. “It’s been happening over the last several weeks, probably over a month, individually.” The network was prepared to work around their schedules in the final year of their contracts — Killam and Pharoah were signed to the traditional seven-year deal, each having completed six years — but “our schedule got easier when they ended up being released from the show,” said Nevins.
Pharoah has a relationship with Showtime, which premiered his one-hour comedy special Jay Pharoah: Can I Be Me? last year. He’s part of the voice cast of the new Comedy Central animated series Legends of Chamberlain Heights, and his voice will be heard in the animated movies Sing and The Adventures of Drunky. Pharoah’s film resume includes such credits as Ride Along (which Story directed), Get a Job, and Top Five.
Killam has appeared on such TV comedies as New Girl, How I Met Your Mother, Community, MADtv, and Scrubs, and in movies including 12 Years a Slave, The Heat, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Grown Ups 2, and Ted 2. Killam will hit the big screen again in Brother Nature and Why We’re Killing Gunther, the latter of which he wrote and directed.
The pair shared their feelings about today’s announcements via Twitter: