TNT and TBS held their upfront presentation 5/18 in NYC, unveiling new shows including TNT dramas “Perception,” an untitled Jay Cocks Project, an untitled Eric Garcia Project, “Major Crimes,” “Snatched,” “Gateway,” “Enigma,” “The Command,” an untitled Shaun Cassidy/Kimberly Williams-Paisley Project, an untitled Mitch Albom Project, “Scent of the Missing,” an untitled Kip Koenig/John Wells Productions Project; and TBS comedies “The Wedding Band,” “An American Couple,” “Men at Work” and an untitled Phoef Sutton project.
Unscripted series in development include “The Great Escape,” an untitled Joel Silver project, “Shooters,” an untitled search and rescue project, an untitled business makeover project, and “Pyramid”, a modern-day take on the iconic game show.
The presentation had its share of hiccups: Just as Conan O’Brien attempted to introduce an old movie clip featuring programming head Michael Wright, a power surge knocked out the video. He improvised for a few minutes, mentioning he had worked last night on his TBS show, got two hours’ sleep and flew 3,000 miles for nothing.
Then, Turner Entertainment Networks President Steve Koonin made a few jokes about the snafu by saying he wasn’t going to be too helpful with the technical issues: “Look, I’m Jewish…I have no idea what happened.” Then, after his teleprompter went kaput, Koonin reportedly said: “Let me tell you about TBS and TNT…I’ve got nothing.”
Then things were fixed and the show went on, as they say.
The slate of new projects detailed hail from Mitch Albom, Thom Beers, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Conan O’Brien, Brad Paisley, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Richard North Patterson, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Joel Silver, Arthur Smith, Scott Turow, Bertram van Munster and John Wells.
In 2011-12, TNT is bringing back seven series, including basic cable’s #1 show, “Rizzoli & Isles”; “The Closer”; and recent Peabody Award winner “Men of a Certain Age.” Also returning are Leverage, “HawthoRNe,” “Memphis Beat” and “Southland.” TNT will launch two new series this summer: “Falling Skies,” the series from DreamWorks Television and executive producer Steven Spielberg, starring Noah Wyle; and Franklin & Bash, a light-hearted lawyer drama from Sony Pictures Television.
For 2012, TNT has ordered “Perception” from ABC Studios, a series starring Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) that centers on a neuroscientist who works to solve complex criminal cases.
The networks are developing new lineups of scripted and unscripted series and making a new push into half-hour comedy. This year marks the beginning of production of the final season of The Closer, starring Kyra Sedgwick. The seventh and final season will include 15 episodes in 2011 and six in summer 2012, leading into the launch of “Major Crimes,” starring Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica). TNT has ordered a 10-episode season of the show, a series set in the LAPD. McDonnell has been featured on The Closer as Capt. Raydor, who was often on a collision course with Deputy Police Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, played by Sedgwick. Major Crimes will be executive-produced by James Duff, creator of The Closer, along with Greer Shephard and Michael M. Robin. Both shows come to TNT from Warner Bros. Television.
The new movie-centric “TNT Tuesday Night Mystery” (working title) will feature a slate of six contemporary crime dramas, from true-crime stories to fictional mysteries. TNT is developing the two-hour movie “Innocent,” based on the book by best-selling author Scott Turow. It is also developing movies based on Richard North Patterson’s Silent Witness; Sandra Brown’s Ricochet; Lisa Gardner’s Hide; April Smith’s Good Morning, Killer; and Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark’s “Deck the Halls.” The TNT Tuesday Night Mystery marks TNT’s return to original TV movies, a format that has earned the network many Emmys, along with unprecedented ratings that hold records yet today.
For TBS, Conan O’Brien is taking his late-night talker Conan on the road for the first time. O’Brien will set up shop at the Beacon Theater in New York Oct. 31-Nov. 3 to celebrate the first anniversary of his arrival at TBS. In 2012, CONAN will hit the road again for a stop in Chicago.
TBS has also greenlighted 10 episodes of “The Wedding Band” (working title), an hour-long comedy from FremantleMedia and Mike Tollin Productions. It stars Brian Austin Green (Beverly Hills, 90210, Desperate Housewives), Harold Perrineau (Lost, Oz), Peter Cambor (NCIS: Los Angeles, Notes from the Underbelly), Derek Miller (Secret Girlfriend) and Melora Hardin (The Office). The show is executive-produced by Mike Tollin (Smallville, Arli$$). Josh Lobis (South Park) and Darin Moiselle (South Park), who wrote the pilot, serve as co-executive producers with Ben Spector (Two Brothers). The show, which follows the misadventures of four friends who spend their spare time performing in a band, is slated to premiere in summer 2012.
“With strong brands and solid foundations in programming, TNT and TBS present a great value proposition to our clients,” said David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports, Turner Broadcasting System. “Turner continues to make investments in original programming that has broad demographic appeal for advertisers and their brand messages, helping create meaningful connections with consumers everywhere TNT and TBS live, from on-air to online.”
TNT scripted series in development:
Untitled Kip Koenig/John Wells Productions Project – Set against the backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, this drama follows a family of cops who uncover the mystical and often crime-ridden world of a small town where things aren’t as they appear. The project comes to TNT from Warner Horizon Television, Kip Koenig (Grey’s Anatomy) and John Wells Productions (Southland, Shameless, The West Wing).
“Scent of the Missing” – A search-and-rescue officer braves the harshest conditions with her best friend and partner, a Labrador retriever. Based on the book of the same name, Scent of the Missing comes to TNT from CBS Television Studios and executive producers Barry Josephson (Bones) and Carol Mendelsohn (CSI) and producers Diane Nabatoff (Take The Lead) and Shelly Glasser (The Good Girl).
“Gateway” – In a nation still healing from the Civil War, lawlessness rules the small towns of the Old West. Three brothers bound by duty, honor and self-preservation take a stand. Together, they fight to survive and thrive – all in a small town called Gateway. The series comes to TNT from Warner Horizon Television, Bruce McKenna (The Pacific, Band of Brothers), Danny Cannon (CSI) and Deran Serafian (House, CSI).
Untitled Eric Garcia Project – A daydreaming police clerk’s overactive imagination isn’t just a way to escape her mundane work life. It’s also her mind’s way of helping detectives solve crime. The project comes to TNT from Warner Horizon Television, Eric Garcia (Matchstick Men) and executive producers McG (Terminator Salvation, the Charlie’s Angels movies) and Peter Johnson (Supernatural) of Wonderland Sound and Vision (Supernatural, Chuck, The O.C.).
Untitled Jay Cocks Project – Based on the character from the Laura Lippman series of books, this drama centers on Tess Monaghan, a former newspaper reporter who has become a private eye in the tough city of Baltimore. The project comes to TNT from Jay Cocks (Gangs of New York) and Bill Haber’s Ostar Productions (TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles).
Untitled Shaun Cassidy/Kimberly Williams-Paisley Project – When a hot Southern mess of a family takes in their widowed daughter-in-law and her gifted young son, these vibrant characters all in their own way come to learn that it’s not the family you’re born into that counts but the family you make. This emotional comedy/drama, set in and around the bucolic town of Franklin, Tenn., comes to TNT from executive producers Kimberly Williams-Paisley (According to Jim), Brad Paisley and Shaun Cassidy (Roar, Invasion).
Untitled Mitch Albom Project – Set in a Detroit radio station, this drama follows a station manager who, against his wishes, returns home to try and breathe life into his struggling city. The project comes to TNT from best-selling author and columnist Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie).
“Snatched” – Should she settle down and have a family? Or jump out of a plane while retrieving a priceless artifact? This hero finds herself at the ultimate crossroads of domesticity and a full-throttle adrenaline rush. Snatched comes to TNT from Prospect Park and Steven Mitchell and Craig W. Van Sickle (Tin Man).
“The Command” – The Command centers on an elite and real squad of detectives within the New York City police department – Borough Command. Cherry-picked by one commanding officer, these detectives get only the toughest, highest-profile and most-unsolvable cases. The best detectives, the hardest cases. The Command comes to TNT from Cineflix Studios; director/executive producer Antoine Fuqua (Shooter, Training Day); writers/executive producers Todd Komarnicki (Resistance, Elf) and Tony Spiridakis (Ash Tuesday); and producer Jim Thompson (War).
“Enigma” – Enigma is a modern-day mystery-of-the-week in the vein of Sherlock Holmes. The project comes to TNT from CBS Television Studios and Anthony Zuiker (CSI), Matt Weinberg and Ed Whitmore (Waking the Dead), who will write the pilot script.
TBS scripted series in development:
“An American Couple” – Set in the suburbs of Illinois, this one-hour comedy follows a newly engaged couple embarking on their journey to the altar. Pete, the hero and the ultimate guy’s guy, decides it’s time to man up, much to the chagrin of his immature friends. An American Couple comes to TBS from Warner Horizon Television, Conaco, writer and executive producer Mike O’Malley (Glee) and executive producers David Kissinger, Conan O’Brien and Jeff Ross.
Untitled Phoef Sutton Project – Anchored by lead detective Emerson Slade, this single-camera comedy spoofs cop and detective shows. The half-hour series centers on an elite force of great minds who solve crimes while working together as a dysfunctional family. The project comes to TBS from Warner Horizon Television, Conaco, writer and executive producer Phoef Sutton (Terriers) and executive producers David Kissinger, Conan O’Brien and Jeff Ross.
“Men at Work” (working title) – When Milo is thrust into single life after discovering his girlfriend has been cheating, he finds comfort in three best friends who help reinvent his manhood with the promise of sex, alcohol and some serious bromance. This half-hour series is written and executive-produced by Breckin Meyer (TNT’s Franklin & Bash, Robot Chicken).
TNT unscripted series in development
“The Great Escape” – What if you found yourself on the deck of a sinking ocean liner, in a prisoner-of-war camp or trapped on a desert island? What if you only had your wits and everyday skills to help escape? The Great Escape puts teams of ordinary people in the middle of their own epic action/adventure movie. Players must work together to evade pursuers, overcome obstacles, solve puzzles and be the first to reach freedom to win a cash prize. The Great Escape comes to TNT from Fox Television Studios, Imagine Entertainment, The Hochberg Ebersol Company, Profiles Television Productions and executive producers Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind),Brian Grazer (24), Francie Calfo (Scoundrels), Elise Doganieri (The Amazing Race), Bertram van Munster (The Amazing Race), Justin Hochberg and Charlie Ebersol.
Untitled Joel Silver Project – This action-packed competition show combines the excitement of The Bourne Identity with the voyeurism of The Truman Show. In each self-contained episode, two contestants are dropped into a fictional town where they find themselves at the center of a major incident. As the minutes tick down, they must use whatever clues they can find to figure out who and what they are before the clock runs out. The project comes to TNT from Warner Horizon Television, Joel Silver (The Matrix trilogy) and Phil Gurin (Shark Tank), based on an original idea by Gurin.
“Shooters” – Ten of the best and brightest up-and-coming stars of the commercial-directing world compete for bragging rights to be known as the top shooter, as well as seed money to start their own production house. Shooterscomes to TNT from Scott Free Productions and executive producers Tony Scott (The Good Wife), Ridley Scott (The Good Wife) and David Zucker (The Naked Gun).
Untitled Search and Rescue Project – The creator of Deadliest Catch takes an inside look at the Alaskan Coast Guard’s search-and-rescue team. When lives are on the line, these elite men and women fly into storms and dive into the Bering Sea, some of the deadliest waters in the world. The project comes to TNT from Original Productions and executive producer Thom Beers.
Untitled Business Makeover Project – A business titan brings knowledge and experience to family businesses on the brink. In each episode, a top leader will assess the big problems facing a small business to help them turn it around before it’s too late. The project comes to TNT from executive producer Arthur Smith (Hell’s Kitchen).
TBS unscripted series in development
“Pyramid” – Andy Richter, famed sidekick to Conan O’Brien, hosts Pyramid, a modern-day take on the iconic game show that began as The $10,000 Pyramid. Contestants team with a celebrity partner to take turns guessing words or phrases in a category. Pyramid comes to TBS from Sony Pictures Television, Embassy Row and executive producer Michael Davies (Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?).
RBR-TVBR observation: Apparently, Koonin became the comedian at this presentation—the best thing he could have done considering the technical chaos around him. Conan is obviously adept at creating humor in just about any situation, but Koonin really put on a show after it was “handed off to him.” Who knows—maybe it was planned all along. But bottom line, everyone had a good time and a lot of laughs—an upfront that will not be forgotten.