Hollywood, Calif. -- Turner Network Television and ESPN are planning to
launch new scripted series within the next two years, according to executives
from both companies.
Turner Broadcasting System Inc. chairman and CEO Phil Kent said Thursday that
TNT expects to develop an original scripted series within the next 18-24 months.
The network's last series, Witchblade, was canceled in 2001 after two
years on the air.
Neither TNT nor TBS Superstation currently feature scripted series on-air,
but Turner Entertainment Group president Mark Lazarus said such shows are an
important component of a network's overall programming offering. He added,
however, that the network will not rush into any projects.
Meanwhile, ESPN is talking with producer Spike Lee about writing a script for
an original series that could bow on the sports network in 2004, executive vice
president of programming and production Mark Shapiro said.
The network's first original series, Playmakers -- which chronicles
the lives of players on a fictional pro-football team -- debuts Aug. 26. Shapiro
would not predict ratings, but he expects the 11-episode show to resonate with
hard-core and casual sports fans.
"As long as we stick to the authenticity of the game on the field and, at the
same time, are able to produce proactive television that focuses on daily lives
of pro athletes, we think it will resonate with viewers because that's what they
see everyday," he added.