As part of its growing foray into original programming, TBS
Superstation has signed development deals for four made-for-TV movies and its first
original series, officials said last week.
Following the example of sister service Turner Network
Television, TBS has a slate of original movies planned. The four titles are: Hurricane:
Force Five, a disaster thriller set in Manhattan, from Alliance Communications Corp.; Reaper,
a cyber-thriller, from von Zerneck-Sertner Films; Play to Win, an action-adventure
film, from PolyGram Television; and Code of Silence, a fact-based story about a
Boston neighborhood plagued by murders, from Singer-White Entertainment.
In addition to those made-for-TV films, TBS has also signed
an original-comedy series-development deal based on its Monkey-ed Movies shorts,
which are quick parodies featuring costumed primates acting out scenes from popular
Hollywood films. The deal -- TBS' first venture into original-series development --
is with Warner Bros. Domestic Pay-TV, Cable & Network Features, in association with
In terms of the original movies, TBS plans to start running
the four, one per quarter, in 1999, and it will probably increase that number annually as
time goes on, according to Jim Head, TBS' vice president of original programming. TBS
first announced its plans to get into original movies at the Television Critics
Association tour in Los Angeles in January.
"Strategically, it's really a good fit for
us," Head said. "It's a natural extension to do original movies. We are a
movie network. They are a big part of our personality."
In terms of the kind of movie projects that TBS wants, he
said, "We are looking for high-concept movies that are unabashedly commercial in the
best sense of the word." That includes genres such as action, thrillers, disaster and
family dramas, Head added.
TBS is looking for programming to replace the
Turner-produced documentaries that, with the exception of National Geographic Explorer
and wildlife shows, are moving to sister channel Cable News Network after this year. Those
nonfiction shows are a better fit on CNN, according to Head.
"Our viewers don't look to us as a documentary
network," he said.
This fall, TBS also plans to launch "The Movie
Lounge," a hosted-movie showcase set in a swank cocktail lounge, Saturdays at 8:05
p.m. Each week, host Kent Osborne will invite three guests for a roundtable about that
night's movie, commenting during breaks on whatever scene they just watched.
TBS has also closed a deal to televise MGM's The
Wizard of Oz -- which has aired for decades on broadcast, mainly on CBS -- for its
60th anniversary, Nov. 21, 1999. The Wizard of Oz had its first television
broadcast in 1956, and it has aired annually.
Time Warner Inc. vice chairman Ted Turner bought the MGM
film library in the 1980s, but he was unable to televise The Wizard of Oz on his
cable networks because CBS held the license for it and kept renewing it. But that license
ends this year, so TBS is taking over.