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Coming Soon to IFC: Will Ferrell’s “The Spoils of Babylon” and Ben Stiller’s and Bob Odenkirk’s “The Birthday Boys”

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“This is a crazy and maybe even a stupid idea,” says Will Ferrell. “IFC is either really courageous or really stupid which makes them the perfect partner for us.”

He may be right, but we couldn’t be more excited to be working on “The Spoils of Babylon” produced by Funny or Die with executive producers are Will Ferrell (Anchorman), Adam McKay (Step Brothers), Matt Piedmont (Casa de mi Padre), who also directs, and Andrew Steele (Saturday Night Live), who wrote the script. “The Spoils of Babylon” is an epic story in the vein of “The Thorn Birds” and “Winds of War,” “The Spoils of Babylon” spans three generations, taking viewers from the oil fields of Texas to boardrooms in New York City, through world war battlefields and velvet sheeted bedrooms. As the story unfolds, the booze, the passion and the heartache lead to illegal arms deals and international espionage with the Shah of Iran not to mention the creation of the doomed sub-­prime market.

“The Spoils of Babylon” is a television adaptation of a best-­selling epic novel by fictional famous author Eric Jonrosh (played by Ferrell) and will feature an ensemble cast to be announced later. The blowsy century-­spanning saga chronicles the sexy and dramatic lives of a family who made their fortune in the oil business. See? Now you’re probably as excited as we are. IFC has ordered six, half-­hour episodes to premiere in late 2013.

But that’s not all! IFC also greenlit ten half-hour episodes of “The Birthday Boys”, a new scripted original sketch comedy, which is executive produced by Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad, Mr. Show) and Ben Stiller (The upcoming The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Zoolander), The Birthday Boys features the Los Angeles comedy group of the same name (UCB Theatre Los Angeles, Just for Laughs Festival) along with Odenkirk.

“The Birthday Boys are too good to just be making viral videos. They are funny enough to fill time between episodes of Portlandia,” said Ben Stiller. “I’m thrilled to be working with Bob Odenkirk again on a TV project. We try to do something every 20 years or so.” Added Bob Odenkirk, “The Birthday Boys are a super funny and fresh new comic voice. I will try not to slow them down.”

The series is in the classic vein of absurd/silly/smart/funny variety shows (Mr. Show, Monty Python), featuring sketches that twist real-life moments and cultural touchstones. An early episode tackles such issues as eggs, toilet paper and computers. The Birthday Boys comedy group includes Jefferson Dutton, Dave Ferguson, Mike Hanford, Tim Kalpakis, Matt Kowalick, Mike Mitchell and Chris VanArtsdalen—whose combined credits include “Parks and Recreation”, “The Office,” “Conan,” “Comedy Bang! Bang!”, and “Portlandia.” The series is written and co-directed by The Birthday Boys and Bob Odenkirk and with that much talent involved there’s no way the show won’t be laugh-out-loud funny and fit right in with our ever-growing line-up of “Always On, Slightly Off” programming.

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Soap tv show

As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

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IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

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When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

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Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

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Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

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Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

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Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

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The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

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Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

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First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

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In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

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Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

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15. All My Children Finale, SNL

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SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

Watch as Chris and Chad try to watch scrambled porn in this new clip from “Out There”

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When you are a bored teenager in a small town you take what you can get when it comes to entertainment. So when Chad and Chris find a cable channel showing adult content, they don’t exactly mind that it’s scrambled. While they wouldn’t mind if it miraculously cleared up, watching scrambled porn definitely helps wile away the hours.

Our new animated series “Out There” premieres tomorrow, February 22 at 10:30/9:30c. The show chronicles the coming-of-age misadventures of socially awkward Chad (Ryan Quincy), his little brother Jay (Kate Micucci) and his best friend, Chris (Justin Roiland). They all live in the small town of Holford, where they are just waiting out their last few years of adolescence hoping that nothing permanently scarring or too too humiliating happens. It’s something we can all relate to.

Watch this new clip and then be sure to tune in tomorrow for the premiere right after Portlandia:

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Want the latest news from Out There? Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @IFCouthere.

“Out There” premieres on IFC on February 22 at 10:30/9:30c

Portlandia won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best Variety/Comedy Show

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Something amazing happened at the Writers’ Guild Awards last night: Portlandia won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Writing Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) – Series! We are so proud of the show whose victory was deemed “the night’s biggest upset” by TVLine for winning over such incredible and incredibly funny shows as Saturday Night Live, The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, who have had a well-deserved lock on the category for the last six years.

Portlandia’s star, creator and writer Fred Armisen picked up the award for his fellow writers, including Carrie Brownstein, Jonathan Krisel, Bill Oakley and Karey Dornetto. No word on whether he put a bird on it. Congratulations! We are so proud of Portlandia.

Want the latest news from Portlandia? Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter@IFCportlandia and use the hashtag #portlandia.

Portlandia airs on IFC on Fridays at 10/9c

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