[03/02/04 - 12:00 AM]
Turner Networks Unveil Development Slate
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The Turner Entertainment Networks - TBS, TNT and Cartoon Network - have released a detailed breakdown of their respective projects in development.

Here's the complete list of said projects (via press release):

Turner Entertainment Networks Unveil Broad Original Programming Slate

Gilligan's Island Becomes Reality as TBS Superstation Announces Slate of New Reality Series; New TBS Superstation Reality Slate includes Tests of Love, Guile, Survival Skills Featuring Projects from Jamie Foxx, Martin Lawrence and Candace Bushnell

TNT Augments Powerful Dramatic Slate with New Original Series and Movies

Cartoon Network Bolsters Popular Adult Swim Block with New Original Series, New Seasons of Existing Hits and the Acquisition of New Action/Adventure Series

Turner Entertainment Networks, which includes TBS Superstation, Turner Network Television (TNT) and Cartoon Network, is making an unprecedented commitment to original programming to bolster each of its respective network slates, it was announced today by Mark Lazarus, president of Turner Entertainment Group. TBS Superstation will look to reality series as companions to its top line-up of contemporary sitcom classics such as Sex and the City, Everybody Love Raymond, Friends and Seinfeld, coinciding with the network's brand re-launch in June 2004; TNT will augment its powerful dramatic slate with new studio pilot deals with two major studios, in addition to two limited original series and multiple original movies; and, Cartoon Network will add to its breakout hit Adult Swim block.

"Each of these network brands has a solid foundation from existing programming that has made it an industry leader with its core target audience. The addition of strategically focused original programming will allow TBS Superstation, TNT and Cartoon Network to further enhance the value of their respective portfolios for viewers, advertisers and our affiliates," said Lazarus. "Our desire is to build each of these brands to compete as leaders of a single television universe among their respective targets."

Among the programming announcements for the Turner Entertainment Networks:


TBS Superstation is launching production on two new reality series, including a reality spin on the classic Gilligan's Island series and an untitled relationship reality series from Bruce Nash (Meet My Folks) that tests the ultimate limits of love. The network�s five additional series going into development include individual hidden-camera projects from comedians Jamie Foxx and Martin Lawrence; and a search for Mr. Right in Manhattan, hosted by Candace Bushnell (Sex and the City) from September Films (Bridezillas, Single in the City).

The following is a rundown of the reality series in production or in development at TBS:

UNTITLED BRUCE NASH RELATIONSHIP SERIES: Bruce Nash�s Nash Entertainment (Meet My Folks, For Love or Money, Who Wants to Marry My Dad?) is creating the ultimate test of love for 10 women who are vying for the affections of one man. Each unexpected twist will put them through an emotional and physical gauntlet unlike any seen on a relationship show. The series will air this summer.

GILLIGAN�S ISLAND: TBS will collaborate with the creators of the original Gilligan�s Island sitcom, Lloyd and Sherwood Schwartz, to shift the concept to the reality genre. It will feature a real-life skipper, first mate, millionaire couple, movie star, Kansas farm girl and professor. And, like the original show, they�ll work together to try to get off the island. Episodes will be modeled after some of the situations that occurred on the original sitcom. The series is set to premiere in Fourth Quarter 2004.

OUT-FOXXED: This hidden-camera show, hosted by Kel Mitchell (Kenan and Kel, All That) and executive-produced by Jamie Foxx, Marcus King (The Jamie Foxx Show) and Stu Schreiberg of Triage Entertainment, gives family members an opportunity to �out-foxx� each other with hidden-camera pranks.

UNTITLED CANDACE BUSHNELL PROJECT: Hosted by Candace Bushnell (Sex and the City) and produced by September Films (Bridezillas, Single in the City), this show takes four single girls on a hunt for Mr. Right, or Mr. Right Now, in New York City. The show will follow the girls at work and at play, watching them date and convene regularly to swap dating notes and maybe even dates.

UNTITLED MARTIN LAWRENCE PROJECT: Executive producers Martin Lawrence, Gay Rosenthal (Behind the Music) and Paul Barrosse (Totally Hidden Video) are the creative force behind this hidden-camera show in which comedians set up practical jokes to play on their unsuspecting friends, family members, celebrity pals and, sometimes even regular folks on the street.


As part of the network's series development, TNT is close to finalizing deals with two major studios. These projects will join previously announced limited series The Grid, from the BBC, and Into the West, from DreamWorks and Steven Spielberg; original films including Salem's Lot, adapted from the Stephen King novel, Evel Knievel, The Librarian and the Johnson & Johnson Spotlight Presentations The Winning Season and The Wool Cap; powerful one-hour dramas such as Law & Order, ER, NYPD Blue, The X-Files, Charmed, Judging Amy and Angel, with Without a Trace joining in fall of 2004; broadcast premieres; and championship sports.

Among the original programming for TNT:

THE GRID: Julianna Margulies (ER, Evelyn) and Dylan McDermott (The Practice, Wonderland) star in The Grid, a dramatic new limited original series from TNT and the BBC that explores both sides of the war on terror. The Grid is being produced in conjunction with Fox Television Studios and Carnival Films. Tracey Alexander (Thanks of a Grateful Nation, Sins of the Father) executive-produces, along with Brian Eastman (Traffik) of Carnival Films. Mikael Salomon (Band of Brothers, TNT�s upcoming Salem�s Lot) will direct from a script by Ken Friedman and Patrick Sheane Duncan & Joshua Brand, from a story by Alexander and Friedman. Production on the six-hour series began in early 2004 in Toronto, London and Morocco. Margulies will play maverick NSA counter-terrorism operative Maya Jackson and McDermott will play FBI agent Max Canary, two of three young American and two British counter-terrorism agents who collaborate to disrupt a ferocious terrorist cell bent on destroying the world�s economic foundations. (previously announced)

INTO THE WEST (working title): TNT and DreamWorks Television, with Steven Spielberg executive producing, will produce an epic 12-hour, limited original series about the opening of the American West. The series will follow two multi-generational American and Native American families with each telling the dramatic stories of the development of the West from their distinct points of view. The episodes will bring them into contact with many of the larger-than-life characters and authentic historic events of the era. Production is slated to begin in summer 2004, with its tentative premiere in summer 2005 on TNT. Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey, co-heads of DreamWorks Television, will be co-executive producers. (previously announced

UNTITLED ORIGINAL SERIES: TNT is close to finalizing deals with two major studios to develop and produce series pilots.

In addition to the original series, TNT will also continue to produce long-form Original movies including:

CLANDESTINE: From a novel by James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential), William Peterson (C.S.I.) stars as a cop in a noir-ish original film drama set in Los Angeles in the 1950s. Paul Schrader (Affliction, Raging Bull) will pen the script; Peterson and Cindy Chvatal executive-produce; Mark Sennet will co-executive produce.

ELSEWHERE: From writer and producer William Peter Blatty (The Exorcist) comes a new vision of horror. Four friends spend a weekend in a haunted house to debunk the myth that it is haunted only to find that terror does indeed reside within its walls. Marshall Cogen, Ray Wagner and Coleen Camp executive-produce.

WAIT UNTIL DARK: In this contemporary retelling of the Oscar�-nominated thriller that starred Audrey Hepburn, a photographer unwittingly smuggles a drug-filled doll into New York and his blind wife, alone in their apartment, is terrorized by murderous crooks intent on getting it back. Mark Wolper (Salem's Lot) executive produces.

EVEL KNIEVEL: TNT takes drama into high gear with a new Original movie based on the life of famed daredevil Evel Knievel. George Eads (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) will star in the title role in this production from Icon Productions and Jaffe/Braunstein Films, in association with ApolloProScreen. Mel Gibson and Bruce Davey will serve as executive producers and Nancy Cotton as co-producer for Icon Entertainment; Michael Jaffe and Howard Braunstein will serve as executive producers for Jaffe/Braunstein Films; and Jan Korbelin will serve as executive producer for ApolloProScreen. The screenplay is by Jason Horwitch, who will also co-produce, from the book Evel Incarnate: The Life and Legend of Evel Knievel, by Steve Mandich. (previously announced.

THE WOOL CAP (working title): The team that struck Emmy� gold with the critically acclaimed, highly rated TNT Original Door to Door reteams for The Wool Cap (working title), a Johnson & Johnson Spotlight PresentationSM to star Door to Door�s Emmy-winning lead William H. Macy (Seabiscuit). Macy and Steven Schachter co-wrote the script and will serve as producers; Schachter will also direct. Don Rickles (Toy Story 2), Oscar�, Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Ned Beatty (Hear My Song) and Catherine O�Hara (A Mighty Wind) will also star, along with newcomer Keke Palmer. The Wool Cap, from Rosemont Productions in association with MAGNA Global Entertainment and Viacom Productions, will be executive-produced by David A. Rosemont (Door to Door) and Frances Page (MAGNA Global Entertainment). The Wool Cap tells the poignant tale of a mute (Macy) who has lost hope in life, only to find it again through his friendship with a precocious 9-year-old girl named Lou (Palmer) who has recently been orphaned. Ira (Rickles), an elderly tenant in Gigot�s building, and Gloria (O�Hara), a longtime friend, develop a silent understanding with Gigot and provide comic relief and friendship to his troubled life. Gigot eventually turns to his estranged father (Beatty) to help him with challenges he must face while caring for Lou. The script is based on an original Jackie Gleason story, previously filmed in 1962 as Gigot. (previously announced)

THE LIBRARIAN: TNT and Dean Devlin�s Electric Entertainment will team up to produce The Librarian, a two-hour action-adventure. Devlin (Independence Day, The Patriot) will serve as the executive producer under his Electric Entertainment banner. David Titcher (Around the World in 80 Days) will write the teleplay and serve as co-producer. Marc Roskin, Electric�s head of development, will have producing duties on the film as well. Hidden beneath the monolithic New York Public Library is a repository for mankind�s greatest secrets. From the Golden Fleece to the Ark of the Covenant, every enigma and artifact from every known and unknown civilization is protected from the forces of evil who, if given the chance, would use the priceless treasures for their nefarious plans. Only one man can keep them safe: The Librarian. (previously announced)


Following a year of incredible growth, Cartoon Network�s Adult Swim has an aggressive programming slate that includes new original series, new seasons of existing hits and the acquisition of new action/adventure series. Adult Swim, which currently airs Sunday-Thursday from 11 p.m.-5 a.m. (ET, PT), is Cartoon Network�s popular late-night block of animated programming aimed at adults 18-34.

Among the previously announced programming highlights planned for Cartoon Network�s Adult Swim in 2004:

Popular original comedy series Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law returns Sunday, April 18, with a new season of 10 episodes featuring B-list cartoon stars in legal jeopardy. Among the animated icons turning to Harvey for counsel this season are Speed Buggy, Auggie Doggie and Doggie Daddy, Inch High Private Eye and the Jetsons. Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law will air Sundays at 11:30 p.m. (ET, PT).

The Venture Brothers, a new Adult Swim comedy, makes its debut on Sunday, August 1. The Venture Brothers follows the adventures of two dimwitted brothers, their scientist father and his bodyguard, Brock. Hank and Dean Venture regularly find themselves in danger, even if they are oblivious to it. The Venture family lives on a spacious ranch with a high-tech laboratory, but their adventures take them to exotic locales around the world, from the deepest, darkest rainforests to the most dangerous urban jungles. When the boys get into a sticky situation, they rely on the muscled, mullet-headed bodyguard Brock to bail them out. With a huge knife, a steely glint in his eye and a taste for blood, Brock is the guy that you want on your side when it�s time to defile your enemy.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force becomes the first original Adult Swim series to go to �strip,� joining the Monday-Thursday line-up on Monday, April 19. Back-to-back episodes of the adventures of Meatwad, Frylock and Master Shake, three human-sized food products living in a rental house in New Jersey, will air at 12 a.m. (ET, PT) Monday-Thursday, following Family Guy and Futurama.

Sealab 2021, the Adult Swim original comedy set on a high-tech undersea laboratory run by a crew of bickering idiots, returns for its third season on Sunday, June 20, at 11:30 p.m. (ET, PT).

Cartoon Network has acquired 52 additional episodes of the highly rated series InuYasha, which will begin airing in April. When a young girl named Kagome is transported back in time to feudal Japan, she meets InuYasha, the son of a powerful demon father with a human mother. Together, they protect the powerful �Jewel of Four Seasons� from the demons and goblins who seek it.

Wolf�s Rain, an anim� series set in a post-apocalyptic future, premieres in April. In this series, wolves are mystical creatures that disguise themselves in human form. One lone wolf named Kiba is tracking a scent that he believes will lead him to paradise. The source of the smell is another wolf named Cheza. When Cheza is kidnapped, Kiba begins a journey to find her.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, is a major producer of news and entertainment product around the world and the leading provider of programming for the basic cable industry.

  [march 2004]  

· ER (NBC)

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