TBS Looks for Original Laughs


New York — No joke: TBS is ramping up original production and will flank returning series in primetime and late-night with new entries this summer.

The “very funny” network in primetime will debut the half-hour scripted series The Bill Engvall Show, a sitcom in which family therapist Dr. Will Pearson (Engvall, Blue Collar TV) may need some help coping with his own brood. The show complements the second season of My Boys, in which sportswriter PJ (Jordana Spiro) again tries to find love in a world dominated by her male friends.

Fans will find additional content for both shows, including a broadband extension in which Dr. Will answers questions before a studio audience, on tbs.com, said Michael Wright, senior vice president of original programming for TNT and TBS, at an upfront presentation to advertisers here March 13.

Also on the digital front: TBS will stream full episodes, provide video-on-demand installments and create a virtual world around adult animation hit Family Guy. Advertiser association with these formats is welcomed, Turner officials said.

Continuing its push to find more edgy late-night fare, TBS will take the reins off impersonator Frank Caliendo (Mad TV) in sketch comedy The Frank Show.

TBS also approved a second season of the grocery store ensemble show 10 Items or Less. Creator and star John Lehr encouraged the assembled media buyers and planners to put on their product-placement caps. “I much rather do a scene in front of Tide, instead of 'Tilt.' Or Cheer, or whoever's here,” he cracked.

At sister service TNT, the development talk focused on an-yet untitled legal entry from Stephen Bocho (NYPD Blue); Mrs. America, a one-hour show following the life of a woman juggling her home and professional lives; a remake of the 1960s series The Saint; and six-hour limited series adaptation of Stephen King and Peter Straub's The Talisman from Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks SKG.

This June will mark the third-season debut of The Closer, basic cable's highest-rated series to date, with Heartland — about a recently divorced couple (Treat Williams and Kari Matchett) who live in the high-tension world of an organ donors' hospital — claiming the coveted lead-out spot from the Kyra Sedgwick-starrer.