TNT and TBS have signed a new three-year deal with SAG-AFTRA to carry the annual SAG Awards. Last night’s live simulcast of the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on the two cable networks drew a total of 5.2 million viewers, including more than 2.1 million adults 18-49. That was roughly on par with last year’s telecast, up 5% in the coveted 18-49 and down 1% in total viewers. “The SAG Awards are a perfect fit for TBS and TNT, giving us the opportunity each year to target comedy and drama fans with a star-studded night celebrating the best in television and movie acting,” said Michael Wright, president, head of programming for TNT, and TBS. “We are thrilled that TNT and TBS will continue to be home of one of the awards season’s premier events.” Here are the stats:
If a Jackass star and Fear Factor executive producer are teaming for a game show, you know it won’t be of the studio-based quiz show variety. TBS continues its push in unscripted series with a six-episode order to Bam’s Bad Ass Game Show, starring/executive produced by Jackass‘ Bam Margera and executive produced by Fear Factor‘s David A. Hurwitz. Each half-hour episode of the show will feature competitors who vie for $10,000 by facing off against each other in demented, potentially dangerous and occasionally painful challenges, like answering trivia questions while dangling above a pool of trash-filled water or dropping a watermelon on a target after being shot out of a cannon. The loser of each challenge is eliminated until there’s only one contestant left standing to take home the cash prize. Helping design and demonstrate the various challenges are Bam’s friends and cohorts, who occasionally wind up worse off than any of the contestants. Bam’s Bad Ass Game Show, from Bill’s Market & Television Prods., will premiere in 2014. Hurwitz and Margera exec produce with Noah Bonnett (Total Blackout).
Because of its built-in compatibility with hot off-network comedy The Big Bang Theory, TBS‘ new competition series King Of The Nerds sounded as the most promising new Turner reality prospect as TNT and TBS are boosting their unscripted portfolios with a slew of new shows. Last night, King Of The Nerds got off to a solid start with Big Bang as its lead in. The premiere of the unscripted series at 10 PM drew 2 million total viewers, more than 1.2 million adults 18-49 and 586,000 adults 18-34 in Live+Same Day. That was pretty close to TBS’ scripted series premieres behind Big Bang, including the recent TBS debut of Cougar Town (1.3 million adults 18-49 and 613,000 adults 18-34) at the fraction of the cost.
Turner’s major expansion into unscripted series continues. After TNT greenlighted two new reality series in the past two days, sibling TBS today also picked up two new shows: Deal With It, executive produced by Deal Or No Deal alum Howie Mandel, and Trust Me, I’m a Game Show Host, executive produced by Mark Burnett, the hottest reality producer at the moment with The Voice, Survivor, Shark Tank and Celebrity Apprentice. Trust Me was originally ordered to pilot by ABC in 2010. Both series are slated to premiere on TBS in late 2013.
Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Cougar Town co-creator and executive producer Bill Lawrence kicked off the winter TCA press tour this morning by offering up some wisecracks about ABC, the former home of his comedy that has since found a new home at TBS. Lawrence thanked TBS chief Michael Wright (who was onstage as part of the network’s panel) for keeping a show alive that Lawrence “has been trying to kill for years.” He also joked about his feelings regarding ABC’s promotion of Cougar Town by saying that now that the show has moved, “I’m actually seeing ads” for the series. Later in the session, Lawrence quipped that the series’ crew still loves ABC and Disney: “They are still the producers and owners of the show, and I think they are doing a great job.”
During the opening panel, Lawrence and new executive producer Ric Swartzlander concentrated on assuring the press that while the series has moved, it will remain the same. “Transition-wise it was easy because Michael is actually a fan of the show unless he is a really a good liar.… He said I just want you do deliver the same show…other than that there is a little nudity, that’s the only thing. We’ve shifted from Brian Van Holt not wearing his shirt all the time to Josh Hopkins not wearing his shirt all the time.” Both exec producers said TBS wanted to buy Cougar Town as-is, rather than revamp it. “A lot of shows have had weird life spans,” Lawrence said. He added, “Unless you are lucky enough to be a hit today, our goal in network TV and off-network TV is simply to stay alive.”
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
The nerds inherited the stage at TCA in Pasadena this morning, led by a self-professed nerd named Ben Silverman, as Turner — undaunted by recent failures in the reality space as Wedding Day and The Great Escape — introduced a quartet of new unscripted projects to the gathered critics. The first of them to premiere (on January 17) is TBS‘ King Of The Nerds, featuring hosts/exec producers Robert Carradine and Curtis Armstrong of Revenge Of The Nerds fame and Silverman also exec producing. The show features 11 competitors going head-to-head (literally) in activities that span the “full nerd spectrum” while living together in “Nerdvana.” With a straight face, Silverman admitted, “We debated nerds and geeks (with great gusto) because geeks identify differently. We didn’t want to alienate geeks by calling them nerds, and vice-versa. It was all about how to do things in a different way…We’ve seen more and more people stand up and say, ‘Hey I’m smart and I don’t need to hide it’.” The point of King Of The Nerds, Armstrong added, isn’t to put down or make fun of nerds but to “celebrate nerd culture…We got 11 amazing nerds on this show”.
Cowen and Co analyst Doug Creutz makes a plausible case, although not completely persuasive one, for his prediction this morning that Tyler Perry’s decision to make OWN his TV platform will work out for everybody. Creutz acknowledges that details haven’t been announced for the two new scripted series that Perry will introduce in mid-2013 on Oprah Winfrey’s joint venture with Discovery. Also, ”we’re not sure Perry’s sitcoms are a great match for Oprah’s aspirational female-targeted brand,” Creutz says. Still, he forecasts that the entertainer’s deal “could potentially bring a meaningful ratings boost to OWN, helping that network climb to profitability in FY13.” Discovery CEO David Zaslav has already promised the Street that OWN will at least break even. Indeed, Creutz says that Perry could increase the prime time audience at OWN by 10% or more even with smaller ratings than he generates at TBS.
Led by Courteney Cox, Cougar Town‘s cast celebrates the show’s Season 4 launch Tuesday, January 8 on TBS. Cast includes Brian Van Holt, Christa Miller, Ian Gomez, Josh Hopkins, Busy Philipps, and Dan Byrd. Ric Swartzlander has joined the show as exec producer and showrunner. Series was co-created by exec producer Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Spin City) and consulting producer Kevin Biegel (Scrubs). Cox and David Arquette also serve as EPs for the series produced by ABC Studios. Video is on the jump.
TBS is going 2-for-2 with its new comedy series with a renewal of freshman Sullivan & Son executive produced by Vince Vaughn. As part of its return to half-hour sitcoms, TBS launched two new shows behind its blockbuster off-network performer The Big Bang Theory this year, Men At Work and Sullivan & Son. Both have now been picked up for a second season.
The news of a division-wide reorganization comes a day after the Turner networks announced former Mark Burnett Productions exec David Eilenberg as the new SVP Unscripted Development. The updated structure will include new roles for three current executives, with Lillah McCarthy promoted to SVP of TNT and TBS Original Productions, heading up the networks’ in-house production company. She had been SVP Original Programming at TNT and TBS. “With an increased emphasis on building up our in-house production arm, we needed an executive who could bring true experience and great taste to the task,” said Michael Wright, president, head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies. “Lillah McCarthy has been a powerful force behind some of our most popular original series, making her an ideal choice to head up TBS and TNT Original Productions, an important and growing part of our business.” Since arriving at TNT to help develop The Closer, McCarthy has overseen development on Rizzoli & Isles, Leverage, Falling Skies and Franklin & Bash.