Production on a new sketch-comedy series showcasing Portland is wrapping up this week. The new series is called "Portlandia" and will air in 2011 on the cable network IFC.
"Saturday Night Live" featured player Fred Armisen and musician Carrie Brownstein, part of former Portland-based band Sleater-Kinney, will star in the six-episode series, playing themselves and other characters. Each episode will include sketches featuring the pair and will portray the progressive personalities, aesthetics and values of the creators’ dreamy and absurd rendering of Portland, according to IFC’s description of "Portlandia."
Lorne Michaels, executive producer of "Saturday Night Live," also executive produces "Portlandia," which will include guest appearances by veteran actor Kyle MacLachlan "Desperate Housewives" and Aubrey Plaza "Parks and Recreation".
In the pilot episode MacLachlan plays the mayor of Portland, who asks Armisen and Brownstein to write a theme song for the city. The segment also features real Portland Mayor Sam Adams as an assistant to MacLachlan's fictional mayor.
Other characters include the owners of a feminist book store, a militant bike messenger and a punk-rock couple (Armisen plays the woman in the couple; Brownstein plays the man).
IFC senior vice president of original programming Debbie DeMontreux said "Portlandia" was inspired by the pair’s Web series, "Thunderant." Executives wanted something more than random sketches, and creating the world of Portlandia pulls the sketches together.
"It’s the fact that Carrie is from Portland and that it’s such an uber-liberal community, very crunchy," DeMontreux said, explaining the reason for the Portland setting. "A lot of the characters and sketches are based on the world of Portland. The characters are very crisp in this world and it’s just a cool, unique, fresh take on sketch comedy."
The series gets its name from the Raymond Kaskey sculpture above the entrance of the Portland Building on Fifth Avenue.