*Fresh from departing “Saturday Night Live,” Jay Pharaoh and Taran Killam have each landed separate pilots on Showtime.
Pharaoh scored the lead role in Jamie Foxx’s comedy “White Famous,” while Killam will star in “Mating,” a comedy anthology from Jason Katims. The casting announcements were made Thursday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills.
“White Famous,” a half-hour comedy, centers on a talented, young African-American comedian — played by Pharaoh — whose star is rising, forcing him to navigate the treacherous waters of maintaining his credibility as he begins to cross-over towards becoming “white famous.” The potential series is based on Foxx’s life, and he will appear on-screen in a recurring role.
“Mating,” also a half-hour comedy, will explore modern dating and relationships with each potential season exploring a different protagonist’s journey. The first season will center on a recently divorced guy — played by Killam — who married young and now finds himself completely unprepared for the brave new, frank and fluid world of dating and hooking up.
Both casting announcements come after this week’s sudden “Saturday Night Live” exits of Pharaoh and Killam. Showtime execs told the TCA they had been courting the pair for the separate roles, knowing that each actor had one more year on “SNL” — and with the understanding that they would each finish up their final year on their contracts.
“Our conversations had been with the actors. It’s been happening over the past several weeks, probably a month,” said Showtime Networks president and CEO, David Nevins, on Thursday. “We were prepared to work around their ‘SNL’ schedules, and so our scheduling got easier when they ended up getting released from the show.”