TNT, TBS and truTV Showcase Upcoming Series and Unveil Impressive Development Slate at 2009 Upfront
TNT to Boost an Already Strong Primetime Lineup with Three New Original Series this Summer; Development Plans Include Projects from Steven Spielberg and Steven Bochco
Comedy Powerhouse TBS to Reach an Even More Diverse Audience with November Launch of Late-Night Talk Show Starring George Lopez; Development Plans Include a Project from Kevin James
truTV Lineup Features Series that Provide Behind-the-Scenes Looks at Everything from the NFL to Elite Terrorist Hunters
TNT, TBS and truTV all part of Atlanta-based Turner Entertainment Networks are unveiling a broad slate of programming today, including new projects in development from industry giants Steven Spielberg and Steven Bochco and box-office star Kevin James.
Turner’s Upfront event today in New York marks the second-straight year TNT, TBS and truTV present in the midst of what was once a week solely for broadcasters.
“Our networks are continuing to grow as rivals to broadcasters, with original programming that reaches a wide spectrum of viewers,” said Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks. “With TNT, we are delivering on our promise to air original programming three nights a week. TBS is offering shows that attract young viewers and a diverse audience, while truTV continues to expand its lineup of exciting original series.”
“More people are watching television than ever before, driven by ad-supported cable networks, and the medium remains a great place for advertisers and the best way to reach a mass audience,” said David Levy, president of ad sales, distribution and sports, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. “With reach that rivals broadcast and our continued investment in original programming, our portfolio of entertainment networks provides tremendous value for our advertising partners’ media budgets. Our clients are demanding more and know they can turn to Turner Entertainment Networks and utilize the power of our brands, our programming and our strategic marketing partnerships to help drive attention to their brands.”
TNT Programming and Development Plans
This summer, four original series return to TNT. The lineup is led by THE CLOSER, ad-supported cable’s #1 series of all time. THE CLOSER is in its fifth season, starring Golden Globe winner Kyra Sedgwick. The series will be joined by the third season of SAVING GRACE, starring Academy Award winner Holly Hunter, and the second seasons of RAISING THE BAR, from executive producer Steven Bochco, and LEVERAGE, from executive producer Dean Devlin.
TNT will debut three new series this summer: HAWTHORNE stars Jada Pinkett Smith (The Women, The Matrix trilogy) as Christina Hawthorne, the forceful-yet-caring chief nursing officer at a Virginia hospital; DARK BLUE, from producer Jerry Bruckheimer (the CSI series, Without a Trace), is an intense police drama led by a cast that features Golden Globe winner Dylan McDermott (The Practice, TNT’s The Grid); and WEDDING DAY, a new series from DreamWorks Television and Mark Burnett (Survivor), gives deserving couples the wedding of their dreams.
In December 2009, TNT plans to debut the new series MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE, a character-based drama from Everybody Loves Raymond Emmy winners Ray Romano and Mike Royce. Romano will star in the project, which will take a wry look at what it means to be a guy approaching mid-life, with Andre Braugher (Homicide: Life on the Street) and Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap).
TNT today announced development plans for these new scripted drama series:
· UNTITLED ALIEN INVASION PROJECT Six months after a worldwide alien invasion, a group of everyday heroes must rise up to fight for their survival all while maintaining their humanity in the process. This project has been ordered to pilot and comes to TNT from DreamWorks Television and filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who will serve as executive producer along with DreamWorks Television heads Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank and screenwriter Robert Rodat. Rodat, who earned an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for Saving Private Ryan, is writing the script for the pilot from an idea he co-conceived with Spielberg.
· CLASS ACTION (working title) Steven Bochco, the mastermind behind many dramas, including TNT’s Raising the Bar, joins with Stephen Godchaux (Spin City) for this project, which follows a down-on-his-luck attorney as he fights for the disenfranchised.
· ZAPATA, TEXAS (working title) The husband-and-wife team of Kyra Sedgwick (TNT’s The Closer) and Kevin Bacon co-conceived and will executive-produce this project, which is the story of a small Texas border town and its newly elected sheriff, “favorite son” Zeke. ZAPATA, TEXAS will follow Zeke as he navigates the equally treacherous waters of small-town politics and the volatile world of the U.S./Mexico border. Bacon is attached to direct the pilot.
· UNTITLED MATT WILLIAMS FAMILY DRAMA Matt Williams, creator of Roseanne and co-creator of Home Improvement, takes a personal, passionate and ultimately heroic look at a loving, middle-American family that is keeping it together at a time when everything is trying to pull them apart.
· UNTITLED DANIEL PYNE NOIR DRAMA Daniel Pyne’s many credits as a writer include The Manchurian Candidate (2004), Any Given Sunday and Pacific Heights. This project from Warner Horizon Television is set in 1954 Los Angeles, where a private detective tries to do the right thing as the ever-changing world makes it more difficult.
· PASTOR JAZZ This drama focuses on a minister, his music and his passion for people’s hearts and souls, from the neediest to the wealthiest. Charles S. Dutton (The Express, Roc) is Pastor Jazz in this project, which is from Warner Horizon Television, Dutton, Mitchell Burgess (The Sopranos, Northern Exposure) and Robin Green (The Sopranos, Northern Exposure).
· MACALISTER Henry Shepard is a washed-up-novelist-turned-professor who tries to inspire the boys of The Macalister School. F.J. Pratt (Less Than Perfect) and Dan Cohen (Less Than Perfect) look into the minds and mischief of students at an all-boys school in upstate New York, showing how one man can have an impact on children of wealth and privilege.
· PROOF Dr. Geoffrey Pierce is an eccentric neuroscientist who uses his unique outlook to help the federal government solve complex cases. With an intimate knowledge of human behavior and a masterful understanding of the mind, this quirky, crime-solving doctor pulls lessons from an odd and imaginative view of the world. This project comes from ABC Studios, Kenneth Biller (Legend of the Seeker, Star Trek: Voyager) and Mike Sussman (Star Trek: Voyager)
TNT is also developing these unscripted dramas:
· THE MAYO CLINIC When someone is ill and has been told nothing more can be done, there is one place to go the renowned Mayo Clinic, where hope springs eternal. This project will chronicle the lives of Mayo doctors and their patients. Bill Guttentag (Nanking) and David Kanter (Rendition) are executive producers.
· TRIP OF A LIFETIME Everyone has a dream or a wish unfulfilled. TRIP OF A LIFETIME will bring together extended, disconnected and deserving families. It could revolve around a lost family member, an unknown child, a missing brother or simply a returned keepsake. The project will be executive-produced by acclaimed author and travel expert Peter Greenberg and Rich Heller (Dallas: War of the Ewings)
“With these new projects, TNT continues to focus on great storytellers,” said Michael Wright, executive vice president, head of programming, TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies (TCM). “Our series are created and produced by the best talent in the business and star some of the top actors working today. The central characters come from different worlds crime, law and medicine but they share essential, everyman qualities. They’re all everyday heroes on a personal journey the viewer can relate to and care deeply about.”
TBS Programming and Development Plans
TBS’s popular series include Tyler Perry’s HOUSE OF PAYNE, which was the #1 program on television among African-American adults 18-49 the last two summers. On May 27, TBS will premiere new episodes of Tyler Perry’s MEET THE BROWNS. During the initial 10-episode run of the show, MEET THE BROWNS ranked as the #1 scripted series among African-American adults 18-49. In July, the popular family comedy THE BILL ENGVALL SHOW will return for its third season, airing Saturdays.
TBS plans to debut two new shows, both previously announced. A talk show starring George Lopez promises to change the late-night landscape in November. Versatile entertainer Lopez will bring excitement back to talk shows with a street-party atmosphere and a high-energy crowd. The show is from 2.2 Productions, paraMedia Inc. and Telepictures Productions, in association with Warner Horizon Television.
In 2010, TBS will premiere NEIGHBORS FROM HELL, a half-hour animated series featuring the Hellmans, a typical suburban family that happens to be from hell. NEIGHBORS FROM HELL comes to TBS from Fox TV Animation (Family Guy), DreamWorks Animation SKG and Jeffrey Katzenberg (Shrek). Pam Brady (South Park), who wrote the pilot episode, and Mireille Soria (Madagascar) will serve as executive producers.
TBS also announced today that it is developing the following:
· THE GAME OF LIFE This half-hour sitcom follows four Pittsburgh friends as they reunite in their early 30s, only to discover life didn’t turn out quite as planned. THE GAME OF LIFE comes to TBS from Sony Pictures Television, executive-produced by Kevin James (The King of Queens, Paul Blart: Mall Cop), Rock Reuben (The King of Queens) and Jeff Sussman (The King of Queens, Paul Blart: Mall Cop).
· BIG TOW This animated project from Sony Pictures Television, Tantamount and executive producer Clay Graham (The Drew Carey Show) will follow the life of J.D. Biggs, a small-town Tennessee single dad and local hero who runs a towing company.
· WEE HOURS From Second City TV and executive producer Lowell Mate, this slice-of-life sketch comedy employs the talents of the legendary Second City comedy troupe to tell stories of Chicagoans during the wee hours of midnight to 6 a.m.
“By dedicating ourselves to comedy and building a foundation with some of the best comedies on television, TBS has become younger and more diverse,” Wright said. “TBS is also dedicated to quality, original programming. We are working with great comedy talent to create shows that complement our lineup of acquired series.”
truTV Programming and Development Plans
truTV is continuing to grow as a destination for young men, with a broad lineup of original series that take action-seekers to places they could otherwise never experience. truTV’s rebranding in 2008 included a drop in median age by five years to 47.
The network is adding to its original series this year, including these projects:
· NFL FULL CONTACT (working title) truTV and NFL Films will provide unprecedented, exclusive access to what really goes on behind the scenes in professional football, from draft day to the Super Bowl.
· CONSPIRACY THEORY WITH JESSE VENTURA He’s undertaken some of the most dangerous missions in the world as a Navy SEAL. He’s body-slammed giants in the wrestling ring as a WWE superstar. He’s even conquered politics as the governor of Minnesota. Now, Jesse Ventura is about to face his greatest challenge yet: uncovering the most compelling, modern-day conspiracy theories. CONSPIRACY THEORY is produced by A. Smith & Co. Productions (Hell’s Kitchen, I Survived a Japanese Game Show, Kitchen Nightmares).
· U.S. SPECIAL OPS: DECLASSIFIED (working title) From producer Tom DeSanto (X-Men, Transformers) and 44 Blue Productions comes a thrilling new series that unlocks the case files of America’s elite terrorist hunters. Through a mix of cutting-edge computer animation, action-packed recreations and hair-raising interviews with actual agents, this series will recount the shocking, formerly top-secret details of the people who keep us safe while we sleep.
· FULL THROTTLE This four-part series, produced by A. Smith & Co. Productions, will provide an inside look at the world’s largest biker bar. Mike Ballard, beautiful bartenders and a full cast of characters race against the clock to serve huge crowds at Ballard’s Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis, S.D., during the town’s famed, nine-day motorcycle rally. More than 300,000 people visit the Full Throttle Saloon during the annual event, where Ballard and his team feel the pressure to make a year’s salary in a short time window, all while providing patrons an experience they will not forget. The series marks the first time cameras have been allowed to capture every minute.
“We looked at what has been most successful in building our audience and found that young guys really respond to competition, to situations with consequences, to great characters and to a little comic relief,” said Marc Juris, executive vice president and general manager, truTV/IN SESSION. “We are using these insights as the cornerstones of our new programming for truTV.”