Fandom is Focus at Turner Entertainment

by Marc Berman  |  05.17.2017

“We are redefining what a network is,” beamed Kevin Reilly, president, TNT and TBS and chief creative officer, Turner Entertainment, at the networks’ upfront at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The presentation featured an array of current Turner personalities including Samantha Bee, Conan O’Brien, Anderson Cooper, Shaquille O’Neal and James Corden on behalf of the Turner platforms, which include Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, CNN, HLN, TBS, TNT, truTV and Turner Sports.

Between TBS and TNT we now have a potent 125 million viewers watching on linear, OTT and mobile devices every month,” Reilly said. “But we are going beyond just the distribution of our shows and are actually building custom fan experiences. And that is the next step we are taking; repositioning from a linear network of shows to a brand that creates and capitalizes on fandom everywhere.”

“We call it our omnichannel,” he added.

Touting a series renewal rate of eight for eight, Turner Entertainment announced a total of six new series – four on TBS and two and TNT—and two new programming blocks.

The four new series at TBS are scripted workplace comedy Miracle Workers, executive produced by SNL’s Lorne Michaels and featuring Daniel Ratcliffe and Owen Wilson; animated Close Enough from Regular Show creator J.G. Quintel; an update of game show The Joker’s Wild, hosted by Snoop Dogg; and an untitled series from The Dress Up Gang. An earlier announced comedy project marking Tracy Morgan’s return to regularly scheduled television is now called The Last O.G., and Cedric the Entertainer is joining the cast.

The first of the two programming blocks, Super Deluxe, is a partnership between TBS and sister company Super Deluxe that will feature scripted comedy content in a weekly interactive 90-minute block divided into 15-minute intervals. The initial projects will include Art Thief, featuring two friends hoping to steal priceless art; Duffy, which follows an aspiring writer and her boyfriend’s sex doll; and Poundhole, which is a contemporary take on Soul Train.

“This year, something new happened at TBS and we are now being recognized as the great destination for original comedy on television,” said Reilly. “This year we introduced six original distinctive series and renewed all six. We brought down our already core demo and we launched five of the top 15 new comedies on cable in 2016.”

TBS has also closed a new four-year deal with Conan O’Brien’s Team Coco, with a focus on expanding to digital and branded content, podcasting, podcasting, mobile gaming, pay TV and live tours.

“This Team Coco deal leads the way in changing our television brands into digital,” said Reilly.

TNT, meanwhile, will add two new non-scripted series. The first is Michael Moore Live from the Apocalypse, from documentary filmmaker Michael Moore which promises to pull back the curtain on everything from Washington politics to Wall Street shenanigans. And the second is another documentary, Who Run the World? (working title), from Sarah Jessica Parker, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock and Refinery29 that will focus on the issues that women face in today’s world.

TNT is also working with filmmaker Ridley Scott to develop a night of original science-fiction programming. Initial plans call for the block to serve as a showcase for hour-long series, short-form programs and other formats to be developed in collaboration with Scott.

It also has upcoming series, The Alienist, which features an all-star cast including Luke Evans, Dakota Fanning and Daniel Bruhl.

In development at TNT are pilots for scripted dramas Highland, starring Margaret Cho; and Snowpiercer, starring Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs.

In other news, Adult Swim has greenlit two new series: animated The Jellies! and live action Mostly 4 Millennials. Cartoon Network has ordered animated Unkitty, based on the characters from the LEGO Movie. 

TruTV has a slate of five upcoming series: stand-up comedy themed Laff Mobb’s Laff Tracks; At Home with Amy Sedaris; comedic anthology series Bobcat Goldthwait’s Misfits & Monsters; the scripted comedy I’m Sorry, and the live call-in talk show The Chris Gethard Show.

CNN, meanwhile, will be adding five new original series to its slate in 2018: Detroit 1963: Once in a Great City; American Heiress: The Patty Hearst Story; 1968: The Year That Changed America; Kennedys: An American Dynasty and Pope. And HLN will debut Unmasking A Killer, a new five-part series 10 years in the making, about the investigation, the case files and the mind of The Golden State Killer.

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