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TV Column
Posted at 01:39 PM ET, 12/15/2011

FX signs Russell Brand to star in late night series


Russell Brand at the CinemaCon awards ceremony. (Ethan Miller - GETTY IMAGES)

Weeks after Bravo announced it was turning Andy Cohen’s “Watch What Happens” into a weeknight late night talk show, FX dipped its toe in the water, announcing it had signed a deal with Russell Brand to headline six episode of an unscripted late night series that would debut in the spring of ’12.

The test run will feature Brand’s unique take on current events, politics and pop culture. The six episodes will be shot in front of a live audience and the format will make room for lots of interaction with his audience.

“We look forward to supporting Russell and his (producing) partner Troy Miller’s ambition to strip down the hosted comedy format to its most fundamental elements and to create something daring and unfiltered for the FX audience,” FX exec vp Nick Grad said in Thursday’s announcement.

More tellingly, Brand said, “I am so excited I’m on the point of climax, in fact I will put the “O” into FX, which spells FOX, which is actually the channel’s real name,” said Brand. “That’s the only thing that worries me about all this to be honest. At least I’ll be able to have a Christmas drink with Bill O’Reilly.”

Yup – more of that on the way. Six episode’s worth.

Brand got his start as a stand-up comic and gained popularity in the UK. He brought his comedy tour to the U.S. in 20009 with his tour, “Russell Brand: Scandalous.”

But he really became a big deal here when he hosted the 2008 Video Music Awards on MTV and poked fun at the Jonas Brothers’ “promise” rings (aka chastity-promise rings), causing the knickers of “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks to get knotted on the show, leading her to blurt out, “I just have one thing to say about promise rings. It’s not bad to wear a promise ring, because not everybody – guy or girl – wants to be a slut.”

This marks the first time we had learned those were our only two options. It was a watershed moment in TV history.

Anyway, Brand did lose a teensy bit of his bad-boy cred when, returning to the stage, he tried to apologize, saying, “I didn’t mean to take it lightly. I don’t want to piss off teenage fans. Promise rings – I’m well up for it…but a bit of sex, it never hurt anybody.”

These days, Brand has become more of a feature film person, including his role as rocker Aldous Snow in the Judd Apatow-produced “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Get Him to the Greek.”

But he’s done some of his best work on TV. Like that day he upped the creepiness factor by 40 percent on the debut of Rosie O’Donnell’s Oprah Winfrey Network talk show.

Brand was her very first guest, and he plucked from the audience a cute little kid named Kyle who, Rosie said, had actually saved her, Rosie’s life when she was on the roof of her new house, locked out. (how she got there is another story).

Kyle saved Rosie by climbing over a wall and entering a window, she explained. Russell naturally concluded he should use Kyle to start a little band of thieves, like in “Oliver Twist.” Rosie asked Kyle if he was uncomfortable being made to sit in Russell’s lap. Russell told Kyle to steal his mother’s purse. Kyle declined. Russell told Kyle to put his hands together and say, “Please sir, can I have some more?” Kyle did so – presumably in hopes Russell would then let him get down off his lap.

Brand’s also written two books: the New York Times best-seller “My Booky Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs and Stand-up,” which was followed by “Booky Wook 2: This Time It’s Personal.”

By  |  01:39 PM ET, 12/15/2011

 
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