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TBS Sets Sitcoms

4/14/2006 8:00 PM Eastern

New York— After not getting enough laughs from the reality realm, TBS is plunging into scripted situation-comedy development.

The “very funny” network, which didn’t score big with viewers with reality comedies Minding The Store or Daisy Does America, is gearing up for a pair of fourth-quarter sitcoms, and has a couple of others in development, as it looks to supplement its proven lineup of acquisitions.

Steve Koonin, executive vice president and chief operating officer for TBS/TNT, said that in the two years since it started to lean towards comedy, TBS now trails only the Big Four broadcast networks in reaching 18-to-34-year-old adults. The network, which rode the strength of Everybody Loves Raymond, Seinfeld, Friends and Sex and the City to attract a younger viewer base — its median age has been reduced to 37 — is now “jumping into scripted sitcoms. Our investments in original programming will continue to bring these younger viewers,” he said during an interview preceding the upfront presentation for TBS and TNT here last Tuesday.

Coming in the fourth quarter: My Boys and 10 Items or Less. My Boys, executive-produced by Gavin Palone (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Jamie Tarses, centers on P.J. (Jordana Spiro, JAG) a sportswriter looking for romance, even though most of her friends are male. TBS, which has ordered 13 half-hours from Sony Pictures Television and Pariah, will likely pair My Boys with Sex and the City.

For its part, 10 Items or Less, from the creators of mockumentary Memron, combines scripted and improvisational elements as a struggling businessman takes over the family supermarket business after the death of his father. His management style lends itself to chaos among the food cases. TBS has ordered five installments from Sony Pictures Television.

In the scripted-comedy pipeline: My Embarrassing Life, a coming-of-age story involving a 14-year-old boy who endures ridicule in school and a quirky family at home while trying to manage his first real crush; and Larry Miller Project, in which the stand-up comedian will provide a unique take on suburbia.

Noting that comedy is “very subjective,” Michael Wright, senior vice president of original programming for TBS/TNT, said TBS has examined the threads between its acquired lineup and in turn is pursuing original shows that build off great “character relationships.”

“We’re just beginning the development process at TBS, and are always going to be selective about the number of scripts we’re working on at any time,” he said.

Wright added that in terms of “tone and sensibility,” TBS would look to avoid punch-line and gag-driven projects and would hope to be “constant with relationship-based comedy.”

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