Reality-focused truTV is expanding into scripted programming with a green light to its first-ever sketch-comedy series: Friends Of The People, for a launch this summer. It stars comedians Kevin Barnett (Guy Code), Jennifer Bartels (In Living Color reboot), Jermaine Fowler (Comedy Underground With Dave Attell), Lil Rel Howery (In Living Color reboot), The Lucas Bros. (22 Jump Street) and Josh Rabinowitz (I Just Want My Pants Back). The network has ordered 10 episodes, including the pilot, for Friends Of The People scripted sketches and man-on-the-street segments. The sketches in the pilot include a previously-untold story from television history, and the adventures of “Tracy Morgan Freeman.”
Sarah Poage Upped To SVP At 44 Blue; Lesley Goldman Joins TruTV As VP Development & Original Programming
Sarah Poage has been promoted to SVP at 44 Blue Productions. The exec, who was VP Production and has been with the company since 2002, works in areas including finance, legal, talent negotiations, budgeting, cost analysis, tax incentives, vendor …
TruTV’s Chris Linn Sets His Programming Team: Marissa Ronca & Michael Lanzillotta Upped; Darren Campo, Adam Dolgins Exit
A month after Chris Linn took the reins of TruTV as president and head of programming, the Turner cable network is undergoing an executive restructuring. Marissa Ronca has been promoted to SVP Development and Original Programming, heading up a newly combined team that covers original programming from development through production. Michael Lanzillotta has been upped to SVP and General Manager of the network. Both are based in New York and report to Linn. As part of the restructuring, SVP programming, production and development >Darren Campo, who was TruTV’s top programming executive under previous topper Marc Juris, is leaving, along with Adam Dolgins, SVP of original programming and >Mary Corigliano, SVP of brand strategy and digital content/multi-platform development. A search is underway for a senior executive to head up TruTV’s brand strategy & digital content/multi-platform development teams, replacing Corigliano.
MTV’s top unscripted executive, EVP of Programming and Head of Production Chris Linn, is headed to Turner where he will take the reins of truTV as president and head of programming. He replaces Marc Juris, who announced his departure at the beginning of the month. Along with David Janollari, Linn took over MTV when president of programming Tony DiSanto left at the beginning of 2011, with Linn focused on unscripted and Janollari on scripted programming. Janollari departed when Susanne Daniels was named MTV president of programming in November, with Linn reporting to Daniels, Van Toffler and Stephen Friedman. He had been eying new opportunities for the past several months as Daniels had been exploring bringing in a new head of unscripted the way she installed Mina Lefevre on the scripted side. After an overture with a British executive, Daniels ultimately promoted within the company, with Lauren Dolgen named Head of West Coast Reality and Kimberly Rach and Andrew Portnoy named co-heads of production. Meanwhile, Linn was quietly anointed for the truTV job earlier this month but the appointment could not be made official as he was still under a contract at MTV. Today, Linn’s appointment at truTV was announced simultaneously with MTV’s announcement of the post-Linn restructuring of its unscripted area.
TruTV said today as it meets with advertisers that it is shifting half its lineup to comedic reality series by year’s end, and has greenlighted three new original series and ordered seven pilots to go with current hits Impractical Jokers and Killer Karaoke. The network says the move targets “funseekers” — a demo evenly split between males and females with a median age of 35 “who look for comedic reality shows that are exciting to watch and prefer humor that is suspenseful, edgy and irreverent. They also look for mood-elevating shows that provide an escape and feature compelling twists and turns”. TruTV also officially renewed four series: Impractical Jokers, Guinness World Records Gone Wild, Upload With Shaquille O’Neal and the previously announced Hardcore Pawn: Chicago. Here are the network’s descriptions of the new offerings:
Here is a clip from the new TruTV singing competition Killer Karaoke. The series begins airing in November, and my question is: was this Steve-O hosted show specifically mentioned among the ancient apocalyptic Mayan prophecies that the world will end later this year?
Two aspiring show creators launched a lawsuit against TruTV today for supposedly lifting their idea for a series about shoplifters. In their suit (read it here) Harry Dunn and Steven Bloch say that in March 2008 they pitched TrueTV a show called Hands Off The Merchandise about identifying and catching shoplifters for retailers. Actually, the duo, who say they came up with the idea for the show, didn’t actually engage with the network. Producers Scott Hallock and Kevin Healey, with whom Dunn and Bloch signed a collaboration agreement, did that for them. In 2009, after various meetings and “enthusiasm,” as the suit puts it, on the network’s part, TruTV told Hallock and Healey that they were going to pass on the idea. The producers passed the bad news onto Bloch and Dunn.