Turner Invests in Original Programming, Broadband

Will Make Content Available on AOL

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Turner Entertainment Group, at its upfront presentation yesterday, announced a raft of new original programming as well as a budding partnership with sibling AOL.
The Turner Upfront presentation, from left: Mark Lazarus, Turner Entertainment Group president; Phil Kent, chairman-CEO of Turner Broadcasting System; Kyra Sedgwick, star of TNT's 'The Closer'; David Levy, president of Turner Entertainment Ad Sales and Marketing and president of Turner Sports; and Steve Koonin, exec VP-chief operating officer for TBS and TNT.
The Turner Upfront presentation, from left: Mark Lazarus, Turner Entertainment Group president; Phil Kent, chairman-CEO of Turner Broadcasting System; Kyra Sedgwick, star of TNT's 'The Closer'; David Levy, president of Turner Entertainment Ad Sales and Marketing and president of Turner Sports; and Steve Koonin, exec VP-chief operating officer for TBS and TNT. Credit: D.Kamboris/WireImage


Broadband strategy
Unveiling snippets of new shows destined for TBS and TNT, Mark Lazarus, president of Turner Entertainment Group, and Steve Koonin, exec VP-chief operating officer at TNT and TBS, underscored the extent of their investment in new programming and outlined a new broadband strategy.

Mr. Lazarus opened the show, which starred rocker Lenny Kravitz and "King of Queens" comedian Kevin James (the CBS sitcom is destined for TBS) with news of a partnership with sibling AOL. "We're making investments in new content and working closely with AOL to give consumers access to TNT and TBS via the AOL portal," Mr. Lazarus said. New original programming and some existing shows will be streamed online, helping the two networks expand their reach.

One of the early favorites in the new lineup is "My Boys," a show starring Jordana Spiro ("JAG", "Must Love Dogs") as a tomboy sportswriter for the Chicago-Sun Times. The character has trouble on the dating scene as a result of her unfeminine ways. "My Boys" is a Sony Pictures Television production from executive producer Jamie Tarses and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" executive producer Gavin Polone.

Another half-hour scripted comedy series on the slate is "My Embarrassing Life," a coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old boy and his quirky family. Also in development is an untitled comedy in which stand-up comedian and actor Larry Miller plays a dad, husband and newspaper columnist with two children.

Historical series
Perhaps prompted by the success of last year's series "Into the West," TNT is planning another epic historical miniseries. Ridley Scott is executive producer of "The Company," a six-hour series about U.S. intelligence during the Cold War.

A sequel to the original movie "The Librarian: Quest for the Spear" is planned. Noah Wylie will return in "The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines." Bob Newhart, Olympia Dukakis and Jane Curtin will also reprise their roles from the original.

TNT has two new dramatic series in production. This summer there will be eight episodes of "Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King," an anthology series in which big-name talents such as William H. Macy and Claire Forlani will star in tales penned by the horror writer. Also to debut this summer is "Saved," a stylistic drama starring Tom Everett Scott ("That Thing You Do") as a young paramedic.

Several dramas are in development. "Generations," from executive producer Robert Redford, crisscrosses through time to follow the lives of three generations of the same family who have all lived in the same house. Two family dramas are also under consideration: "The Norms," about a dysfunctional family in the new South; and "Middletown," set in (you guessed it) Middle America.

Other projects in the works include an untitled cop show, produced by William M. Finklestein and Bill Clark (both of "NYPD Blue"); an untitled drama about a divorced couple involved in the high-stakes world of heart-transplant surgery (one member of the couple is a counselor of loved ones of those who have donated organs and one is a doctor who harvests and implants the organs); and an untitled project from the writers of "Nip/Tuck" about a doctor who loses his career after he becomes the fall guy for a botched surgery on a high-profile athlete. Also, last year's hit, TNT's "The Closer," returns for another season.

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Contributing: Claire Atkinson
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