[01/09/04 - 12:00 AM]
TCA Winter Press Tour: Comedy Central
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The Television Critics Association began its winter press tour this week in which the various broadcast and cable networks talk about their upcoming plans to the nation's top critics and entertainment reporters.

Here's a breakdown of the highlights of Comedy Central's presentation (via press release):


"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" To Provide Extensive Coverage

From The Iowa Caucus Through The National Conventions And Election Night

"Indecision 2004" To Be Sponsored By AOL, Bass, Cingular Wireless And Volkswagen

COMEDY CENTRAL once again puts traditional news media and political candidates on alert as the network kicks off its "Indecision 2004" Presidential election programming, beginning in earnest with the upcoming Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire Primary. As in 2000, leading the way to the White House will be the award-winning "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

With ongoing reporting from across the nation including exhaustive coverage of the primary elections and on-site tapings at the national political conventions, "The Daily Show" will uphold its reputation as the place more Americans get their news than should. "Indecision 2004" will culminate on Election Night with a live, one-hour special featuring results from contests across the country and comprehensive election night analysis.

To date, "The Daily Show" has been tracking the jockeying by Oval Office aspirants with special "Race from the White House" packages and has had many of the Democratic candidates on the show including Senator Joseph Lieberman, Senator John Edwards, General Wesley Clark, Representative Dick Gephardt, Representative Dennis Kucinich and the Reverend Al Sharpton. In addition, Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun is scheduled to be a guest on the show on Wednesday, January 14.

"Indecision 2004" marks the second presidential election covered by Stewart and his crack team of correspondents from "The Daily Show." The nightly news parody earned its stripes during the now infamous 2000 election, receiving an Emmy Award and a prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for its yearlong coverage of the race for the White House. Senator Bob Dole served as the series' Guest Political Commentator throughout that campaign.

Many distinguished politicians have appeared on "The Daily Show" as part of COMEDY CENTRAL's ongoing political coverage including Vice President Al Gore, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator John McCain, Senator Tom Daschle, Senator Bob Kerrey, Senator Charles Schumer, Senator Arlen Specter, 2000 Green Party Presidential Nominee Ralph Nader, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Senator and 1996 Republican Presidential Nominee Bob Dole.

COMEDY CENTRAL's unique brand of political coverage began in 1992 with the Al Franken-hosted "State of the Union: Undressed." This unprecedented, live comedic coverage of President George Bush's 1992 State of the Union Address was made possible only after COMEDY CENTRAL successfully pressured ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN to provide the comedy network access to the pool feed of the speech. The success of that special - the original alternative to main stream political coverage - spawned COMEDY CENTRAL's "Indecision '92" election coverage with nightly reports from the Republican and Democratic conventions, and an in-depth election night special. The political satire torch was carried by "Politically Incorrect" through the next election season with host Bill Maher teaming with Al Franken, Arianna Huffington and Chris Rock for "Indecision '96" which culminated in a live two-hour election night special. Additionally, from 1994-1996 comedian Dennis Miller anchored COMEDY CENTRAL's annual "State of the Union: Undressed."

"The Daily Show," a nightly news parody launched in the summer of 1996, takes a reality-based look at news, pop culture, politics and the media. In each show, Stewart and a team of correspondents comment on the day's stories employing actual news footage, taped field pieces, in-studio guests and on-the-spot coverage of important news events. Among its many plaudits, the critically-acclaimed series received the 2002-2003 Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series.

"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" airs Monday-Thursday at 11:00 p.m. with encore presentations Monday-Thursday at 1:00 a.m., Monday-Friday at 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. (all times ET/PT).

"Indecision 2004" will be sponsored by AOL, Bass, Cingular Wireless and Volkswagen.


Deal Includes Specials From Chris Rock, Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Bill Maher, Ellen Degeneres, Robert Schimmel And Dave Chappelle, Among Others

COMEDY CENTRAL and HBO have reached an extraordinary licensing agreement that gives the all-comedy network access to the enormous stand-up library of the pay cable channel, it was announced today by Kathryn Mitchell, senior vice president, programming, COMEDY CENTRAL.

The exclusive deal, which takes effect on January 1, 2004 and cements COMEDY CENTRAL's reputation as the premiere home for stand-up comedy as it will add 138 titles to its already vast library of shows. Included are a mix of 30, 60 and 90 minute specials featuring A-list talent such as "Chris Rock Bigger & Blacker," "Chris Rock Bring The Pain," "HBO Comedy Half Hour: Ray Romano," "John Leguizamo's Sexaholix," "John Leguizamo's Freak," "Bill Maher: Be More Cynical," "Ellen Degeneres: The Beginning," "Robert Schimmel: Unprotected" and "Dave Chappelle: Killin Them Softly."

"It is thrilling for us to be able to come together with HBO to make this deal. It is a perfect creative fit! Both HBO and Comedy Central are committed to bringing the best stand-up and the best comedic talent to television," said Kathryn Mitchell, Senior Vice President, Programming. "Both channels are breeding grounds for unique and exciting comedic voices from Chris Rock to Dave Chappelle to "South Park". I hope that all of Comedy Centrals basic cable viewers will now have the opportunity to see some of the fantastic shows from HBO that have previously only been available to pay cable customers."

"COMEDY CENTRAL shares the same passion for stand-up as HBO so it is only fitting to make this deal with them," said Scott Carlin, president, Domestic Program Distribution, HBO. "HBO is very proud of these programs and to know Comedy Central holds them in the same regard brings added value to the agreement."

COMEDY CENTRAL is the home for premium stand-up comedy and continues to bring forward some of the industry's best comedians. COMEDY CENTRAL offers a variety of original stand-up comedy programs and specials. The network features stand-up shows such as "Premium Blend," which serves as a breeding ground for up-and-coming stars and "COMEDY CENTRAL Presents," featuring today's hottest comics performing a half-hour of stand-up with a special set designed to reflect each comedian's material and personality, as well as one-hour specials created exclusively for COMEDY CENTRAL. Past one-hour specials include: Kevin James, Tracy Morgan, Wanda Sykes, David Alan Grier, Jay Mohr and Jim Breuer.


In Addition To An Original Series, Norton To Shoot A Stand-Up Special And Host "Reel Comedy"

Hour-Long Series - First In COMEDY CENTRAL History - To Premiere In June 2004

Graham Norton is coming to America and his destination is COMEDY CENTRAL. The British TV sensation, star of Channel Four's hit series, "So Graham Norton," will be very busy at the all-comedy network for the next two years with an American version of the award-winning variety/talk show (premiering in June), his own stand-up special and hosting duties of COMEDY CENTRAL's "Reel Comedy."

"Graham is one of the premiere comedic talents and truly an original. He has become a huge personality in England and we believe that his popularity will soar once U.S. audiences are exposed to him here on COMEDY CENTRAL," said Lauren Corrao, senior vice president, original programming & head of development. "Our confidence in Graham's potential is reflected in the variety of ways by which we intend to utilize his skills. Beginning with the variety/talk show in June, he will have a major presence on the channel."

Describing the new series, Norton says "It's going to be like a great big American pie, hot and tasty and I know what you Americans like to do to pie."

The untitled variety/talk series, the first hour-long series in COMEDY CENTRAL's history, will be reminiscent of the outrageous Norton's previous British efforts, combining celebrity and audience interviews with pre-taped segments. The weekly series will produce episodes the same week they premiere and has received a 13-episode commitment for the first season.

In addition, Norton will star in his own hour-long stand-up special (air date TBD) and will host four installments of COMEDY CENTRAL's "Reel Comedy," which takes a behind-the-scenes, unique, in-depth look at the hottest new comedic films.

Raised in the Republic of Ireland, the 39 year-old Graham Norton is currently one of the most popular entertainers on British television. The critically-acclaimed Norton has won numerous British Academy (BAFTA) awards, including this year's BAFTA for Entertainment Performer, and an International Emmy for Best Popular Arts Program in 2001. His big break in the world of comedy came in 1997 when he was nominated for the prestigious Perrier comedy award at the world-famous Edinburgh Festival, which led to multiple TV offers and, ultimately, to the creation of the hugely successful "So Graham Norton" on Britain's Channel Four. Currently on a stand-up tour in the United States, Norton's international popularity has already led to specials in Japan ("Ah So Graham Norton") and Mexico ("Si Graham Norton").

Norton's production company, So TV, will produce the variety/talk show with Norton and Graham Stuart serving as the executive producers. Norton and Stuart are represented by UTA, which brokered the deal with COMEDY CENTRAL.

  [january 2004]  


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