NBC’s Watching YouTube

Somebody was watching.

A while ago, someone put up bootleg copies on www.youtube.com of a 2005 WB comedy pilot that wasn’t picked up, produced by Bill Lawrence (“Scrubs”). The innovative series is about two guys who want to become sitcom writers and end up being part of a reality series.

The series pilot, which is shown in three parts, was downloaded more than 600,000 times from the San Mateo-based YouTube Web site. People started writing about it. (see www.insidebayarea.com/TV for Susan Young’s column on it.)

On Friday, NBC announced that it will pick up the series, first airing as webisodes, then later on the network. The stars, Paul Campbell and Taran Killam, will return to their roles as best pals from the Midwest who get the call from a network to come work for them “if they think they can do a better job.”

The two try to develop a great TV sitcom, unaware that the network is actually manipulating and recording their every move for a reality series.

“This comedy pilot has generated a life of its own and we are intrigued by its potential to develop into a series,” says NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly. “Sometimes, if you show it, they will come. We’ve seen how people have responded on the Internet, plus we always bet on Bill Lawrence’s work.”

Lawrence says he’s always been passionate about the project and “I think we will see more launched on the Internet in the future.”

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