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Ars Nova Signs First Look Deal with NBC

NBC announced that it has entered into a first-look deal with the three-year old Ars Nova Theater (511 W. 54th Street).

"Ars Nova partners, Jon Steingart, Jenny Wiener and Jason Eagan, have created a theater space producing some of the best and most talked-about alternative comedy and experimental theater on the New York scene," said Marc Hirschfeld, Executive VP of Casting at NBC Entertainment. "There's a lot to be mined, and we expect a lot of good things to come from this joint effort."

Hirschfeld will explore the possibilities for translating talent from the Ars Nova stage to television in tandem with Senior Vice President and Head of NBC Entertainment's New York Development Unit, Katie O'Connell, and Renate Radford, Director of Comedy Development for NBC Universal TV Studio.

"This is a great opportunity for the many artists who come through Ars Nova," said Jenny Wiener, one of Ars Nova's producers.

"We've worked hard to allow each production to find its own path," added Ars Nova Producer Jason Eagan. "Bringing some of these projects to NBC gives our artists one more option to explore."

Ars Nova was built in the memory of Gabe Wiener to provide artists an intimate audience environment to shape and perform new works in theater, comedy and music. Through its ongoing series, it offers a diverse range of programming: "Out Loud", a play-reading series which brings leading actors and directors together to work on new works from emerging playwrights; "Broadway Spotlight" which features current, up-and-coming Broadway stars performing an intimate evening of music; "Uncharted", a composer series for contemporary music and musical theater; and "Thursdays at Ten" which focuses on New York's best alternative comedians, musicians, and oddity acts.

These series have served as a launching pad for fully produced runs at Ars Nova Theater or, in some cases, Broadway or Off-Broadway productions. The Wau Wau Sisters, Planet Banana and The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players all performed at "Thursdays at Ten" before having full runs at Ars Nova. [title of show], which opens at the Vineyard Theatre in February, also had a two month mini-run and workshop at Ars Nova in 2005.

Six plays from "Out Loud" have developed into commercial productions: Buicks by Julian Shepherd; Fighting Words by Sunil Kuruvilla; Swimming In The Shallows by Adam Boch; The Ruby Sunrise by Rinne Groff; and Modern Orthodox by Daniel Goldfarb. The Clean House, by Sarah Ruhl and directed by Moises Kaufman, had its "Out Loud" reading and subsequent workshop at Ars Nova in 2003. It was among the three finalists for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize and is part of the current season at Lincoln Center.

Two of Ars Nova's monthly productions, Creation Nation, starring Billy Eichner and Robin Taylor, and At Least It's Pink, starring Bridgett Everett and Kenny Mellman (Kiki and Herb), have been selected to perform at HBO's 2006 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen this March.

Ars Nova is currently producing Judy Gold's acclaimed 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother, running thru March 10.

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