Peacock Sets MacGruber Series, Weekly Late Night Shows from Amber Ruffin and Larry Wilmore

NBCUniversal streamer makes big moves to solidify its originals lineup

Amber Ruffin, Will Forte (as MacGruber) and Larry Wilmore.
Peacock's comedy slate will include shows from Amber Ruffin, Will Forte (as MacGruber) and Larry Wilmore. Getty Images

With The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon and Late Night With Seth Meyers, NBC’s late-night block has been a powerhouse. Now parent company NBCUniversal’s burgeoning streaming service, Peacock, is building out its own formidable late-night offering.

A weekly block of programming, featuring two shows anchored by late-night veterans Amber Ruffin and Larry Wilmore, is coming to Peacock beginning in September. The new streaming service made the announcement today during CTAM’s virtual press tour, a partial replacement for the annual Television Critics Association’s summer press tour that was canceled this year due to the pandemic.

Peacock also said that Will Forte will reprise his MacGruber character from Saturday Night Live, which was spun off into a 2010 movie, in a new series called MacGruber.

Wilmore’s project, as of now untitled, will center on high-profile interviews that discuss current events, including sports, politics, entertainment and the election. Wilmore will executive produce along with Jo Miller, Tony Hernandez, Brooke Posch, David Miner and Michael Rotenberg. The show, which has an 11-episode order, will mark the former Daily Show correspondent’s return to late night for the first time since Comedy Central axed The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore in 2016.

“I’m honored to have the chance to not only be back on television but to partner with the great team at Peacock,” Wilmore said in a statement. “Apparently there’s a lot going on in the world right now and a big election happening soon, so I’m happy to have a place in the conversation.”

Ruffin, a writer and performer on Late Night With Seth Meyers, will host half-hour episodes of The Amber Ruffin Show. The series, which has nine episodes ordered, will “showcase Amber’s signature smart and silly take on the week’s news,” and will be executive produced by Ruffin’s fellow Late Night collaborators Jenny Hagel, Mike Shoemaker and Meyers.

“Having a late-night show on Peacock is so exciting!” Ruffin said in a statement. “We can’t wait to write sketches, songs and jokes about this terrible time we call now!”

Meyers told Adweek in his June cover story that Ruffin’s project at Peacock would give her and Hagel more space to share their perspectives.

“It’s incredible how many ideas they come up with that are specific and unique to their voices,” Meyers said of his two Late Night collaborators. “It’s been such a benefit to our show to make space for those voices, but it also makes a ton of sense that they would have their own place to do it. We hope they’ll still be incredibly valuable parts of our staff, but they just come up with so many ideas that they could, on any given night, do a show without me. So in order to keep them from poisoning my food, I’m very happy that they have their own show.”

Late night isn’t the only place where Peacock is investing in comedy. The MacGruber series, like the SNL sketches and film, will star comedian Will Forte as the titular MacGruber, a parody of the action hero MacGyver. The original creative team from the film, which has become a cult classic, will work on the series.

MacGruber doesn’t yet have a premiere date.

The focus on late night highlights how Peacock considers its live and trending programming options, which executives have said may help the streamer stand out in a crowded landscape for on-demand video. It also builds on a value proposition of Peacock Premium, the tier of Peacock that will require most subscribers to pay $5 a month.

@kelseymsutton Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.