Here's how Netflix got Tina Fey's new show 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' from NBC

Unbreakable Kimmy SchmidtNBC.comThe Ellie Kemper — starring show is produced by ’30 Rock’ team Tina Fey and Robert Carlock.

In November, it was announced that the new Tina Fey-produced comedy “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” would move from NBC to Netflix before it even aired.

The swift move from network to streaming site was a surprising one, and Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos is explaining why it picked up the show.

After NBC worried “about the time of the year” the show would be released (March) and not having “a complementary program to launch it with,” Sarandos tells Vulture he got a call from Fey.

“We got a call from Tina Fey and from Dave Miner to come to New York. We came up literally on the last day of production, watched some of the shooting. Met with Tina and the team, heard what they were planning, and said, ‘Look, if you can work it out with NBC, we’d love to do it.’ And within 12 hours, we’d seen nine of the 13 episodes. And within four days, the deal was done.”

The show, starring “The Office” actress Ellie Kemper as a woman who escapes from a doomsday cult and starts life over again in New York City, is produced by “30 Rock” duo Fey and Robert Carlock, who have a longstanding relationship with NBC.

Tina fey ellie kemper nbcSlaven Vlasic/Getty ImagesTina Fey with her show’s star, Ellie Kemper, at NBC upfronts in May.

“This was a strange opportunity where, usually when shows don’t make it, sometimes it has very little to do with the quality and it has everything to do with the time slot, the lead-in show, the time of year it came out,” Sarandos explained to Vulture at the Gotham Independent Film Awards in December. “It was probably one of the most remarkable developments of the last couple of years in television.”

NBC boss Robert Greenblatt was also on board with the swap from network TV to the streaming site, saying in a statement: “While it was originally developed for NBC, we have a very drama-heavy mid-season schedule so we’re thrilled about this Netflix opportunity; it’s an instant win-win for everyone, including Tina, Robert, and Universal Television. We’re already talking to these extraordinary creators about new development for NBC, but meanwhile, everyone here from Universal Television will do everything possible to see that ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ becomes a long-running hit on Netflix.”

“The very construct of ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ — its offbeat premise, hilarious and rich characters and serialized storytelling — make it a perfect Netflix comedy series,” adds
Cindy Holland, VP of Original Content at Netflix.

While most of the “Kimmy Schmidt” episodes now streaming on Netflix had already been shot for network TV, a few extra “saucy” jokes were able to weave their way back into the show after the move.

Netflix chief communications officer Jonathan Friedland says that now the show “is a little saucier.”

Specifically, star Jane Krakowski tells Business Insider, “I think they did go back and try to breathe some of the jokes that we either cut for time, is what we’ve heard from Tina and Carlock. Jokes that didn’t make it past some of the censors made it back in. Now that we have that freedom.”

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