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NYTVF Productions and The Orchard Kick Off Production of Their First Original TV Series, ‘The Jamz’

Apr 28, 2015

Kathy Najimy, David Pasquesi and Michael Patrick Thornton Set to Star in Independent, Ensemble Sitcom, Based and Shot in Windy City

New York, NY – April 28, 2015 – NYTVF Productions and The Orchard today announced the first details of their original independent series, The Jamz, which will begin production early next month in Chicago featuring a plethora of Chicago talent in front of and behind the camera. The series is based on the 2014 New York Television Festival Official Selection of the same name, which was selected by The Orchard to be the first original TV series to be funded and distributed by the company. It is also the first series to be produced by NYTVF Productions, a new arm of the New York Television Festival launched last year to be a production partner for independent television artists, guiding their work through the development process, with the ultimate goal being series orders.

The Jamz is a half-hour workplace sitcom following the exploits of the crew at 101.7 THE JAMZ, Chicago’s (fictional) #1-rated radio station. The original concept for The Jamz, which was ordered straight to series by The Orchard, was created by Jim Kozyra and Chris Petlak, who are on board as series regulars, writers, and co-executive producers.

Also starring in the ensemble comedy will be Kathy Najimy, David Pasquesi and Michael Patrick Thornton. Najimy has delighted audiences for years in roles on television (King of the HillVeronica’s Closet, VeepThe Big C), stage, and screen, with memorable performances in over twenty-five films including Sister Act and Hocus Pocus. David Pasquesi is an improv artist and actor with numerous film and television credits (VeepBoss, Groundhog Day) who last year opened (with comedy partner TJ Jagodowski) the Mission theater, housed inside of the new iO Chicago. Thornton (Private Practice) is the co-founder of Chicago’s The Gift Theatre and will join the project off of his star turn in the critically-lauded Title and Deed at Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre. Further primary roles will be announced in the coming weeks. Additionally, Chicago – a city with an impressive comedy resume, to say the least – plays a key role in the series.

“Some of the most entertaining shows in the history of television have been workplace comedies, setting a high bar for new sitcoms in this category. This exceptional cast combined with a unique, independent POV that permeates throughout the production is the perfect mix to ensure this series rises to the challenge,” said NYTVF Founder and Executive Director Terence Gray. “Each year, more and more artists from Chicago like Jim and Chris submit to New York Television Festival, and are given opportunities to both showcase their work and make connections with networks, studios and distributors like The Orchard. We are proud to have so many members of the cast and crew with Chicago roots, and to have a number of NYTVF alumni involved in the production.”

Directing The Jamz will be Ted Tremper, creator of Shrink, the 2012 NYTVF Best Comedy and Critics Choice Award winner that is currently in development with Jean Doumanian Productions at Participant Media’s television network, Pivot. Michael McCarthy (iO and Second City, The Drew Carey Show, Saturday Night LiveSesame Street) is serving as the series’ writing mentor, with Kozyra and Petlak joined by fellow NYTVF alumni Jo Scott and Jeff Murdoch, who are also penning an episode.

“Partnering up with the New York Television Festival and discovering The Jamz was just the beginning. Since then, the number of TV and digital video networks demanding credible, entertaining original content has exponentially grown, as has the future potential for this amazing, inspired show,” said The Orchard’s SVP of Film & TV Paul Davidson. “We couldn’t be happier with how well the show is developing, and we’re confident audiences will tune into one of the most hilariously-flawed, fictitious radio stations ever created.”

The Jamz is currently in pre-production, with NYTVF Productions’ Gray and The Orchard’s Davidson serving as executive producers. Black Apple Media’s Angie Gaffney is serving as the line producer, Chicago-based Paskal Rudnicke Casting is  overseeing local casting, and Resolution Productions Group is  serving as the local production base and post-production service provider.

The Orchard and NYTVF Productions will bring The Jamz to market once production wraps later this spring and the project adds to the indie distributor’s already dynamic 2015 content strategy, which kicked off with high profile acquisitions at The Sundance Film Festival in January. There, the distributor outbid competitors for the rights to several A-List projects, including “The Overnight” (executive produced by Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass, starring Jason Schwartzman and Adam Scott) and “Digging for Fire” (directed by Joe Swanberg, starring Sam Elliott, Ron Livingston, and Melanie Lynsky).


Formed in late 2014, NYTVF Productions is the content production arm of NYTVF ( and builds on NYTVF’s role as curator and advocate for the independent television movement, primarily through year-round competitions that culminate at its annual New York Television Festival – now in its 11th year. NYTVF Productions serves as a production partner for independent television artists, guiding their work through the development process, with the ultimate goal being series orders for these projects. NYTVF Founder/Executive Director Terence Gray serves as executive producer for NYTVF Productions. Currently NYTVF Productions is in pre-production on original independent comedy The Jamz (a direct-to-series order with The Orchard), and has development deals for projects with A&E (unscripted), FOX (scripted comedy), HISTORY (unscripted) and truTV (unscripted comedy).


Founded in 2010, Black Apple Media is a creative development and artist management company based in Chicago, Illinois. Black Apple cultivates artistic integrity, manages quality productions, and fosters talented artists in an effort to create authentic, original, and daring independent content. Located at Cinespace Chicago Studios, the Black Apple Media team includes Producers/Managers Angie Gaffney and Lauren Walker, and Producers Kevin McGrail and Steve Sullivan. More info can be found at


Mickie Paskal and Jennifer S. Rudnicke have collectively been casting for the past 20 years. Their company, Paskal Rudnicke Casting, Inc. concentrates its work in film, both Feature and Independent. They also cast for Television, Commercial, Voiceover and Print. Currently they cast for Showtime’s Shameless, currently in pre-production for it’s 6th season. Mickie and Jennifer most recently cast for USA’s Sirens, ABC’s Mind Games, and MTV’s Underemployed. They have cast for Ron Howard’s The Dilemma, Transformers 3, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Michael Mann’s Public Enemies. Over the last few years, Mickie and Jennifer cast Sundance favorites The Merry Gentlemen and Grace is Gone. Some other credits include; A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas, The Express, Stranger Than Fiction, The Break-Up, The Promotion, The Weather Man, Road to Perdition, Fargo and The Company working with the late Robert Altman.


Resolution Productions Group is a full-service media production company. Our state-of-the-art facility, creatives and staff of seasoned producers handle all aspects of the production process- from concept to final delivery. We excel at content creation, event design, and audio/visual staging-solutions. We have a variety of unique space options, with one of the largest shooting stages in Chicago.


The Orchard is a pioneering music, video and film distribution company and top-ranked Multi Channel Network operating in more than 25 global markets. With a holistic approach to sales and marketing combined with industry-leading technology and operations, The Orchard amplifies reach and revenue across hundreds of digital, physical and mobile outlets around the world. The Orchard streamlines content owners’ business complexity with an intuitive client dashboard, comprehensive rights management and tailored client support. Founded in 1997, The Orchard empowers businesses and creators in the entertainment industry. The Orchard most recently released DIOR & I in theaters and will release THE OVERNIGHT on June 19th. Upcoming releases in 2015 include CLUB LIFE, CARTEL LAND, DIGGING FOR FIRE, FINDERS KEEPERS and NASTY BABY.  For further information, please visit

Press Contacts:
Don Ciaramella / Matt Biscuiti
The Lippin Group for NYTVF Productions
[email protected] / [email protected]