Like many New Yorkers, Court TV CEO Henry Schleiff said he couldn’t help but notice the irreverent advertising that little Fuse had plastered around the city during the past year, a campaign that at times tweaked the music network’s giant rival, MTV: Music Television.
“I looked around and I said, 'Boy, that Fuse is making a lot of noise: What in the world is going on with this little Fuse?’ ” Schleiff said.
That led Court TV — on a quest to draw younger viewers — to hire the executive behind that attention-grabbing guerilla marketing, Fuse president Marc Juris, as general manager. It’s a new position at the investigation channel.
Emmy-winning Juris, a veteran of 37.5 million-subscriber Fuse and of AMC, starts Nov. 3 at Court TV.
“I said if we’re going to go out and get somebody, let’s get somebody who’s making that kind of noise with those limited resources, and if we can get somebody with programming experience, all the better,” Schleiff said. “What he’s done from a programming point of view on a little digital network has been extraordinary.”
A major thrust of Juris’s mission at Court TV will be to give the channel an edgier spin to lure that more youthful audience. And he thinks it can be done — that the crime-investigation genre appeals to all ages, depending on how you tell the stories.
As a case in point, Juris cited the 2001 remake of Ocean’s Eleven, based on a movie from 1960.
“I went (to see it), my Mom went, my nephew went,” Juris said. “That’s where I think the opportunity is. There’s also a new world of cyber crime.
“There’s a new generation of viewers who are exposed to a whole different kind of world and different kind of crime that I think is really rich and has not been mined in any way.”
Juris — reporting to president and chief operating officer Art Bell — will oversee programming, production, creative services, marketing and corporate communications. Bell continues to oversee day-to-day operations and strategic planning.
As general manager, Juris will play a large role in brand building, strategic planning and program development, ramping up and expanding Court TV’s reality-show lineup, which launches this fall.
Aiming to be hipper, Court TV has a roster of new shows, such as Russell Simmons Presents Hip Hop Justice.
In addition to reality shows and movies, Juris sees an opportunity for Court TV in scripted dramas. “There is no limit to the way you can approach this material, as long as it’s imaginative and compelling,” he said.
At Fuse, Juris made a splash with in-your-face ads that often needled rival MTV. After the Super Bowl halftime disaster, when Janet Jackson flashed her breast, Fuse ran a full-page ad in the New York Post in the form of an open letter to its “dear friends at MTV” that said, “many of us here have been victims of wardrobe malfunctions and understand the life-long impact one single costume catastrophe can have.”
Fuse also placed a billboard ad in Times Square, near MTV’s offices, featuring Sally Struthers in a mock campaign to “Save the Music Video.”
For hiring Juris, Schleiff quipped, “I just won employee of the week at MTV.”
Juris said Fuse was just trying to create “brand-defining marketing that cut through.”
Fuse is part of Rainbow Media Holdings, a unit of Cablevision Systems Corp.
“Marc has been a great asset to Fuse,” Cablevision CEO Tom Rutledge said in a prepared statement. “We will miss him and wish him well at Court TV. We have a remarkably creative and innovative executive team in place at Fuse that will continue to build on the network’s success as it moves forward.”
Fuse declined to comment on who might replace Juris, who said he was sort of destined to wind up at Court TV.
“I realized with my last name being Juris, and not being a lawyer and not being a judge, how could I say no to Court TV?” he joked. “It sort of was meant to be.”