TNTs First Drama Hour Highlights Season Plans


New York-Turner Network Television and TBS Superstation last week laid out their programming plans for the 2000-2001 season, including TNT's first foray into original dramatic series.

During a star-studded upfront presentation here, TNT officials outlined an original program slate to Madison Avenue that included a variety of miniseries, made-for-TV movies and specials.

The network has a number of original-programming debuts slated for July, including the premiere of its first hour-long drama series, Bull; Nuremberg, the two-part miniseries starring Alec Baldwin and Christopher Plummer; and Race Against Time, a telepic thriller featuring Eric Roberts.

Back in January, TNT picked up 13 episodes of Bull, which is about a team of investment bankers on Wall Street, from sister company Warner Bros. Television.

"Bull will be our first specifically targeted one-hour ensemble drama series, after a year of hard work on a development slate," said Bob DeBitetto, TNT's president of original programming. "Our short-term goal is to have two one-hour dramas on the air at the same time. Signature one-hour dramas complement the rest of the programming the network offers."

Last August, TNT unveiled a development slate of 10 potential one-hour dramas, including Bull, targeted toward adults aged 25 to 54.

For October, TNT has scheduled Witchblade, a two-hour backdoor pilot that may evolve into a series. Also in October, the network will air Baby, an original movie that stars Farrah Fawcett in a drama about a family who discovers an abandoned baby girl on its doorstep.

Actor Tom Selleck has two original-movie projects with TNT. He will appear this August in made-for-TV movie Running Mates, a comedy-drama that looks behind the scenes at presidential politics and the media. His Crossfire Trail, which will air in September 2001, is a two-hour adaptation of the Louis L'Amour classic Western novel. Selleck will both star in and executive-produce it.

For next year, some of TNT's original movies include: Second String, which features Gil Bellows, Jon Voight and Buffalo Bills quarterback Doug Flutie in a pro-football comedy-drama; James Dean: An Invented Life, about the young actor who died so tragically; and The Mists of Avalon, which stars Anjelica Huston and Julianna Margulies as the women who wield the power behind King Arthur's throne in Camelot.

A year ago, TNT officials said they planned to invest more than $800 million over the next five years on original programming including movies, miniseries, dramatic series and specials.

TNT's sister service, TBS, had its own news last week. In addition to unveiling its plans to rebrand the channel as a destination for men, the superstation said it renewed original series Ripley's Believe It or Not! for a second season, ordering 22 new episodes. The series, which is hosted by actor Dean Cain, is averaging a 2.7 primetime rating. The new episodes will begin airing next January.