New boss Kevin Reilly is putting TNT and TBS, on dif­fer­ent course


To make room for the set of “An­i­mal King­dom,” a new TNT drama com­ing this sum­mer, pro­duc­ers had to de­stroy the fam­ily home from “The Wal­tons” on a Hol­ly­wood sound­stage.

It makes for an ir­re­sistible metaphor: New boss Kevin Reilly has be­gun the process of trans­form­ing the Turner Net­works of TBS and TNT from a home for tele­vi­sion com­fort food into what he hopes is a desti­na­tion for buzzy, edgy fare that can com­pete on the same turf as the AMC, Netflix and HBOs of the world.

Reilly calls it a nec­es­sary move that re­flects the need to at­tract at­ten­tion in a crowded world of pro­gram­ming and the dif­fer­ent ways a new gen­er­a­tion watches tele­vi­sion.

“Frankly, we in­tend to re­write the rules now to lead the tran­si­tion to the next era to de­fine what a TV net­work is in years to come,” Reilly said. The for­mer Fox and NBC en­ter­tain­ment chief came to his new job a year ago and is only now start­ing to out­line his vi­sion for the net­works.

TNT and TBS are hardly fail­ures de­spite re­cent slip­page; they're con­sis­tently among the top-rated ca­ble net­works. But their fare is sym­bol­ized by the TNT po­lice pro­ce­dural “Riz­zoli & Isles,” that Reilly just can­celled, the most pop­u­lar se­ries on ca­ble TV that no one talked about.

Such com­fort food was fine in an era of pas­sive tele­vi­sion view­ing, when there were rel­a­tively few choices. “The Wal­tons” didn't have much com­pe­ti­tion. But it's also, in Reilly's view, lit­tle re­mem­bered. Peo­ple ac­tively choose what shows to watch now, and they need some flash and crit­i­cal at­ten­tion.

“An­i­mal King­dom,” which stars Ellen Barkin as the ma­tri­arch of a crime fam­ily, cer­tainly has a much darker feel than “Riz­zoli & Isles.” TNT also has two thrillers, “Good Be­hav­ior” and “Alienist,” in the works, and it has in­vited film­maker M. Night Shya­malan in to cu­rate a “Tales From the Crypt” re­make that will lead a new block of hor­ror pro­gram­ming.

Reilly's vi­sion for TNT is “bolder, more cin­e­matic fare,” he said. He wants “se­ries that are less by the book, more en­gag­ing, chal­leng­ing and, we like to say, more mus­cu­lar. And we're look­ing to mus­cle our way right into the top con­sid­er­a­tion set of the very best of what's on tele­vi­sion and hope­fully knock out a few com­peti­tors while we do.”

One of TNT's di­rect com­peti­tors, the USA net­work, has been mak­ing a sim­i­lar tran­si­tion and re­ceived a sig­nif­i­cant en­dorse­ment Sun­day when its new se­ries “Mr. Ro­bot” won the Golden Globe for best drama.

TBS will keep its meal ticket, re­runs of “The Big Bang The­ory.” But Reilly wants to po­si­tion it as a bridge be­tween the cur­rent TBS and the youth­ful Adult Swim net­work.

Among its up­com­ing pro­grams are “Angie Tribeca,” an “Air­plane”-like spoof of a po­lice pro­ce­dural made by Steve Carell and his wife, Nancy. “Peo­ple of Earth” is about a sup­port group for alien ab­ductees. “The De­tour,” from for­mer “Daily Show” correspondent Ja­son Jones, is a fam­ily road trip tale but, based on a few high­lights, has its racy mo­ments.

“Go­ing into the fu­ture, this is a wise strat­egy,” said Bil­lie Gold, vice-pres­i­dent and di­rec­tor of pro­gram re­search at Carat USA. Both net­works need to re­place out­go­ing pro­gram­ming with shows that put them on the map as a desti­na­tion.

Turner is also ex­pand­ing into busi­nesses that it hopes will com­ple­ment the net­works.

The bold­est is ELeague, an or­ga­nized com­pe­ti­tion for gamers that will have its con­tests tele­vised on TBS. Su­per Deluxe, a startup com­pany, is op­er­at­ing in Los An­ge­les as a dig­i­tal con­tent cre­ator and in­cu­ba­tor for tech prod­ucts.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.