Originals In Bloom on Turner South

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Southern homeowners with unkempt yards should be wary — you may get Bushwhacked by Turner South.

The regional network is bowing a new half-hour makeover gardening series on July 19 at 9 and 9:30 p.m. with an eye toward turning eyesores into the envy of the neighborhood. Turner South has ordered 20 episodes of Bushwhacked, hosted by Justin Cave and Christine Pullara, with the first lawns and landscapes getting a new look sculpted in the College Park section of Atlanta and in Asheville, N.C. Seven episodes have been shot so far in those markets, as well as in Knoxville, Tenn.

“We want you to ambush your neighbors,” said a Turner South spokeswoman. “The folks we have filmed so far were embarrassed at first, but then were quite happy with the results.” Yards in need of refurbishing can be identified at the channel’s Web site (www.turnersouth.com).

Turner South wants its tools and cameras to train on yards in Birmingham, Ala., Columbia, S.C., and Athens and Madison, Ga., in future episodes

Bushwhacked, which settles into its regular time slot of Saturdays at noon on July 23, is just the latest original series entry from Turner South. This past weekend, the network, in conjunction with Time Warner Cable Charlotte, celebrated Home Makers, a show in which a female crew revamps a 100-year-old former boarding house in that city.

For a $2 donation to the United Family Services Shelter for Battered Women (the network and the operator will add another $1,000 to the proceeds), visitors were able to get a sneak peek of the completed renovation. The final 20 episodes of the 60-installment season will begin airing weekdays, beginning Aug. 3 at 3 p.m. (ET).

Launched in 1999 and now in some 7.6 million homes throughout the southeast, the service, featuring long-running skeins Southern Living Presents and Liars & Legends, recently aired its 1,000th premiere original episode (excluding the weekday simulcasts of radio’s popular Rick & Bubba Show), with the June 7 installment of Home Makers.

“Since its launch, originals have always been a key component of this network, which is like the little engine that could,” said Tom Karsch, who added the senior vice president and general manager duties at Turner South last January to the same title he holds at Turner Classic Movies.

And there are more originals on the way. Karsch said the network would bow the half-hour weekly show Yokel on Sept. 9. The series takes a look at weekend activities in communities with a distinct southern flavor, like a hollerin’ Elvis contest. The network is also in development of New South Style (working title), a magazine show aimed at African-Americans that will touch on homes, fashion, food, technology, gardening and travel.

Originals aside, the network has been garnering attention through its intermittent ascension into basic-cable’s top 10 ratings realm over the past couple of years, via its coverage of the Time Warner-owned Atlanta Braves — the network ranked second for the week of June 13 to 19 when it aired five ball games and finished with a 2.3 household average.

Over the first 24 games, Turner South has rang up a 3.49 household mark, up 25% from a 2.79 mark for the same number of contests in 2004. Delivery of adults 25 to 54 has risen 55% to 390,000 from 315,000 on average last season.

Turner South also gives viewers a chance to catch up or relive its ballgame telecasts with its Braves in a Hurry presentation. The half-hour recap of the previous day’s game airs at 6:30 a.m. and immediately before that day’s contest. Karsch said Turner South holds the rights to compress games that run on TBS, and the network will likely take a swing at that option next season.

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