The official word: Two of cable's most successful brands are once again paving the way to the future with a bold, industry-leading strategy. According to the vision laid out by executives during the annual Upfront presentation today in New York, TBS and TNT will undertake a major transformation over the next two years, evolving from linear television networks into branded video destinations.
"Our strategy is designed to confront the challenges of an ever-growing media universe by focusing on the strength of our brands, the power of our programming and the ability to deliver branded video content that can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere and on any device," said Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks. "To reach our destination, we will focus on leading with the strength of the TBS and TNT brands; cementing each network's foundation with popular, high-profile acquisitions; expanding our lineup of scripted and unscripted original series to a year-round model; and maximizing multi-screen opportunities."
"Turner continues to make investments in programming that has broad appeal with viewers, and our commitment to producing originals throughout the year and content for all screens will provide tremendous opportunities for our clients and their brands," said David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. "As viewer habits progress and we evolve into a One Media World, advertisers continue to look for opportunities to engage with consumers on multiple screens and platforms. Turner's leading portfolio of linear and digital brands, with enhanced original content, provides our advertising partners with greater reach for their messages, across multiple screens, genres and demographics."
In addition to detailing the strategy for success and growth in the future, TNT and TBS unveiled their extensive original series lineups for 2012-13. TNT and TBS also announced a diverse range of new projects in development from such high-profile creative partners as David Baldacci, Michael Bay, Steven Bochco, Tom Clancy, James Duff, Howard Gordon, Norm MacDonald, Matthew McConaughey, Conan O'Brien, Michael Ovitz, Robert Port, Michael M. Robin, Ron Shelton, Greer Shephard, Don Todd and Dick Wolf.
"At TNT, we're expanding our programming horizons with new forms and new genres – like we did last year with Falling Skies – and we're reaching out to new audiences," explained Michael Wright, president, head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies (TCM). "Whatever the form or genre, we're using what we call the 'popcorn mindset' as the guiding principle behind all our development. From a storytelling perspective, that simply means that TNT's dramas are meant to entertain and excite viewers, take them on a ride and land them safely at the end."
TNT has nine original series on tap this summer, more than any other time in the network's history. Among the new series joining the network are the eagerly anticipated Dallas and TNT's first-ever reality-competition show, The Great Escape. TNT is also building its originals slate with the recently greenlit medical drama Monday Mornings and the unscripted series Boston Blue (working title) and 72 Hours (working title).
TBS's slate of original programming is being developed with two types of comedy lovers in mind. "The Big Bang Theory gives us an ideal foundation from which to launch original series that target our audience of 'comedy relatables,' who like comedy that reminds them of their own lives, while Family Guy is one of our anchors for 'comedy rebels,' who enjoy more irreverent, provocative comedy," Wright said.
For the comedy relatables, TBS is premiering two new sitcoms this summer, each of which will be paired in the lineup with The Big Bang Theory. Next week, TBS will premiere Men at Work, followed in July by the launch of Sullivan & Son. Later this year, TBS will also debut the scripted comedy series Wedding Band, followed in early 2013 by the premiere of Cougar Town, now a TBS original series. For the comedy rebels, TBS's slate includes shows like the competition series King of the Nerds (working title) and the newly greenlit Deon Cole's Black Box and Who Gets the Last Laugh? (working title).
The following is a rundown of new and returning series on the slate for TNT and TBS, as well as descriptions of scripted and unscripted series being developed for the networks.
Current and New Series
Rizzoli & Isles – Season 3 premiere: Tuesday, June 5, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT)
Franklin & Bash – Season 2 premiere: Tuesday, June 5, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT)
Dallas – Two-hour series premiere: Wednesday, June 13, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT)
Falling Skies – Two-hour season 2 premiere: Sunday, June 17, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT)
The Great Escape – Series premiere: Sunday, June 24, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT)
The Closer – Final six episodes premiere: Monday, July 9, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT)
Perception – Series premiere: Monday, July 9, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT)
Leverage – Season 5 premiere: Sunday, July 15, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT)
Major Crimes – Series premiere: Monday, Aug. 13, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT), then moves to 9 p.m.
Southland – Season 5 coming in February 2013
Monday Mornings – New series coming in early 2013
Boston Blue (working title) – New series coming in 2013
72 Hours (working title) – New series coming in 2013
TNT Scripted Series in Development
King and Maxwell – Bestselling author David Baldacci's popular characters Sean King and Michelle Maxwell aren’t your typical pair of private investigators. Both are former secret service agents, and their unique skill set (not to mention their razor-sharp chemistry) often gives them a leg up on both suspects and conventional law enforcement. Baldacci serves as a consultant on the project. Executive Producer: Shane Brennan. Producer: Karen Spiegel and Grant Anderson. Studio: CBS Television Studios.
The Last Ship – In this exciting action/adventure project based on the popular novel by William Brinkley, the crew of a naval destroyer is forced to confront the reality of a new existence when a pandemic decimates most of the earth's population. Michael Bay (Transformers) intends to direct the pilot if it is green lit. Executive Producers: Michael Bay, Brad Fuller, Andrew Form, Hank Steinberg (showrunner and writer) and Steve Kane (writer). Production Company: Platinum Dunes.
Legends – This suspenseful, action-packed drama is being developed by Howard Gordon, Jeffrey Nachmanoff and Mark Bomback from the novel Legends by Robert Littell. The story follows a deep-cover operative named Martin Odum, who has an uncanny ability to transform himself into a different person for each job. But his own identity comes into question when a mysterious stranger suggests that Martin isn’t who he thinks he is. Executive Producers: Howard Gordon, Jeffrey Nachmanoff, Alexander Cary and Jonathan Levin. Studio: Fox Television Studios.
Lew Archer – Based on the title character from Ross McDonald's popular novels, this project from The Closer creator James Duff and Close to Home creator Jim Leonard follows the sleuth many consider to be "the original P.I." Executive Producers: James Duff, Jim Leonard (writer) and Steve N. White. Studio: Warner Horizon Television.
Tom Clancy's Homeland Security – This event-based procedural written by Javier Grillo-Marxuach and set in Tom Clancy's world of espionage pits a select team of domestic intelligence operatives against enemies within and without, from narco-traffickers and nuclear terrorists to cyber-criminals and human smugglers. Executive Producers: Tom Clancy, Michael Ovitz, Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Chris George.
Untitled Steven Bochco Murder Mystery project – This suspenseful and intriguing crime drama will intimately dissect a single murder case over an entire season, from the commitment of the crime through the investigation, arrest and trial. Executive Producer: Steven Bochco (writer). Co-Executive Producer: Eric Lodal (writer).
Untitled Ron Shelton family drama – A disgraced football coach loses his high-profile job in Los Angeles and winds up moving his three kids and 70-year-old father to Louisiana. But this might just be the fresh start they need in this insightful drama from the writer/director of Bull Durham. Executive Producers: Ron Shelton (writer), Michele Weisler and Andrea Buchanan.
TNT Unscripted Series in Development
American Troubadours –From one of the executive producers of American Idol and film star Matthew McConaughey, this new reality competition series is on a mission to discover the best unsigned bar band in America, singer/songwriter bands that represent the greatest tradition of rock and roll. Executive Producers: Nigel Lythgoe, Matthew McConaughey and Anastasia Brown. Production Companies: Nigel Lythgoe Productions and J.K. Livin Foundation.
Cold Justice – This docu-drama, produced by EmmyÒ winners for such series as Law & Order, Project Runway and Top Chef, will follow former prosecutor Kelly Siegler and crime scene investigator Yolanda McClary as they crack cold cases. Executive Producers: Dick Wolf, Tom Thayer, Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz. Production Companies: Wolf Films and Magical Elves.
Rivals – From the producers of Laguna Beach and Jockeys comes this riveting series set in the glamorous world of thoroughbred horse racing. Executive Producers: Gail Berman, Lloyd Braun and Gene Stein for BermanBraun; Gary Ravet for Promark Productions; and Gary Auerbach and Tina Gazzero for Go Go Luckey.
24/7: Los Angeles – OscarÒ-winning documentary filmmaker Robert Port crafted this gripping, all-access look at the men and women who protect the streets of Los Angeles. Executive Producers: Robert Port, Michael Goldstein and Michael Larkin. Production Company: Port Films.
Men at Work – Series premiere: Thursday, May 24, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT)
Sullivan & Son – Series premiere: Thursday, July 19, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT)
Wedding Band – New series coming in December
Cougar Town – Joins TBS original series lineup in early 2013
King of the Nerds (working title) – New series coming soon
Deon Cole's Black Box – New series coming in 2013
Who Gets the Last Laugh? (working title) – New series coming in 2013
TBS Scripted Series in Development
The Kid – To try and get his game back, a young and socially naïve golf prodigy named Quinn teams up with Joey, an unconventional new caddy. But much to the dismay of his father, Quinn learns more than just golf, as this new duo makes its way into the high-rolling, fast-moving big-time world of professional golf. The Kid is written by Donald Todd from a story by Sports Illustrated senior writer Michael Bamberger and writer Jay Hass, along with David Morse (Tremé) and professional golfer Phil Mickelson's longtime caddy, Jim "Bones" Mackay. Executive Producers: Donald Todd, Greer Shephard and Michael M. Robin. Production Company: The Shephard/Robin Company. Studio: Warner Horizon Television.
Most Likely – It has been ten years since high school, and the former “most likely to succeed” star student returns to his hometown after losing his job. He winds up working for the former (and still) “most popular” jock in this mismatched buddy comedy penned by Josh Heald (Hot Tub Time Machine). Executive Producers: Conan O’Brien, Jeff Ross and David Kissinger. Co-Executive Producer/Writer: Josh Heald. Production Company: Conaco LLC. Studio: Warner Horizon Television.
Zone Lord – Conan O'Brien serves as executive producer on this sitcom with an intergalactic twist. Three roommates awake one morning to discover an evil but very hip alien has moved into their building, along with his diminutive navigator. Executive Producers: Conan O'Brien, Jeff Ross and David Kissinger. Co-Executive Producer/Writer: Ross Venokur. Production Company: Conaco LLC. Studio: Warner Horizon Television.
TBS Unscripted Series in Development
Norm MacDonald is Trending – TBS has ordered a pilot presentation of this talk show from some of the executive producers behind Sports Show with Norm MacDonald and Real Time with Bill Maher. SNL alumnus and former "Weekend Update" anchor Norm MacDonald hosts as he and his team of correspondents sort through the churning mass of pop culture and social media to pull out the funniest, most bizarre and entertaining events so you don’t have to. Executive Producers: Norm MacDonald, Marc Gurvitz and Lori Jo Hoekstra.
Untitled Competition Game Show – This big, unique and physically challenging competition series is being developed by Jared Hoffman and produced by Alloy Digital's Generate Studios, which was co-founded by Jordan Levin and Pete Aronson. Executive Producer: Jared Hoffman. Production Company: Generate Studios.