AMC's view on Kevin Smith isn't askew. The cable network has renewed Smith's unscripted series Comic Book Men for a fourth season and also has two new projects from the writer/director/podcaster in development.
As part of AMC's expanded relationship with Smith, the channel has ordered a pilot for the late-night series Hollywood Babble-On. The TV show would be based on the popular live show and podcast of the same name hosted by Smith and Ralph Garman (Joe Schmo Show).
Joel Stillerman, AMC's executive vice president of programming, production and digital content, says Hollywood Babble-On would likely air weekly, although in success he sees the possibility of doing the show nightly. "When Kevin and Ralph are deconstructing pop culture, it's different from the way a lot of other people handle it," Stillerman says. "We're now figuring out what the TV version will look like."
The idea for Hollywood Babble-On originally came from Garman, who produces an hourly snark-filled take on entertainment headlines for The Kevin and Bean Show on KROQ-FM Los Angeles. Smith, a frequent guest on Kevin and Bean, grew friendly with Garman over the years and the two eventually launched Hollywood Babble-On as a combo live stage show and podcast. They now perform Hollywood Babble-On most Friday nights at the Improv comedy stage in Los Angeles, and have also taken the show on the road to several cities.
Garman and Smith have developed TV versions of Hollywood Babble-On in the past, including a potential syndicated project. This time, the show is being developed at AMC by Eliot Goldberg, the network's senior vice president of unscripted programming. Earlier in his career, Goldberg was a producer on Joe Schmo, where he became acquainted with Garman.
"A group of AMC execs came out to watch the show and fell in love with the format," Smith says. "Ralph had a vision for it. Suddenly it's starting to take root. It's such a fun thing to see because this is Ralph's baby."
Hollywood Babble-On will be produced by Wilshire Studios (The Soup) and executive produced by Smith, Garman and Gary Auerbach.
Also in the development pipeline: A companion series to Comic Book Men starring one of the show's regulars, Robert Bruce. The new show would follow Bruce and his fellow experts as they travel around the country looking for rare geek collectibles at real estate sales, auction houses and flea markets. Original Media will produce the show, with Smith and Charlie Corwin as executive producers.
Comic Book Men, which airs Sundays at Midnight/11c, has been a solid performer for AMC, averaging 1 million viewers overall and a solid 722,000 viewers in the key adults 18-49 demo. "Kevin has more energy than almost any one else I've ever met," Stillerman says. "He seems to be in perpetual motion. And has this genuine need to entertain. He has an organic view of that word. I think he thinks making movies, TV shows, podcasts, books, pilots, for him it all falls under this broad category of entertaining people. We found him to be a great collaborator."
Smith compares working with AMC to "having he attention of the prettiest girl in school. It's like finding the most supportive friends on the planet. They can do no wrong. They're bold and glorious. Every week their audience grows. They've got something special. To be with the coolest kids in the room and they've got your back, it makes you feel relevant."