Upfront 2015: Kevin Reilly unveils TBS/TNT vision
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Kevin Reilly Unveils Bold Vision for TNT & TBS at Turner Broadcasting's 2015 Upfront
Major Changes Lie Ahead for TBS, While TNT Gets a Sharper Programming Focus
Networks Embark on Ambitious Ramp-Up of Program Development and Production
There's a revolution coming to TBS and an evolution coming to TNT, announced Kevin Reilly, president of TBS and TNT and chief content officer for Turner Entertainment, during this morning's Turner Upfront 2015 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Reilly revealed his initial strategy for the two networks, including plans for a major TBS rebrand, a shift in focus for the TNT slate of original dramas and an increase in the development and production of original content for both networks.
"We’re on the move in a big way at TNT and TBS," Reilly said. "We're doing a proactive makeover of these networks. We’ll double the number of our original series on TBS and TNT over the next three years. And we'll sharpen the point of view and be even more adventurous in our programming choices."
While outlining his bold plans for the future, Reilly emphasized that both networks are currently very strong. TBS tops the charts as basic cable's #1 network in primetime delivery of adults 18-49, adults 18-34 and total viewers. And TNT is home to more hit series than any other cable network. On a monthly basis, TNT and TBS collectively reach nearly half of all adults 18-49.
TBS and TNT's strength extends to multiplatform delivery. In the first quarter of 2015, TBS’s YouTube channel accumulated 2.2 million views, nearly three times more than the same quarter last year. TNT's YouTube channel also scored 2.2 million views in first quarter, a +25% increase over Q1 2014. Viewers spent considerably more time watching TNT and TBS content via set-top VOD, with 2014 average monthly playtime increasing by +19% over the prior year for both networks. And TNT's authenticated TV Everywhere viewing and live streaming benefited from expanded sports offerings and fully stacked seasons of original series, driving a year-over-year increase of +171%.
"Going forward, we will be positioned as much for mobile and digital growth as we will be in linear," Reilly said. "We'll develop a cutting-edge digital products and platforms and expand into short-form digital and branded content."
Turner brought its entire portfolio of leading entertainment, kids, news and sports brands together for this morning's presentation. In addition to TBS and TNT, the showcase included highlights and news from Adult Swim, Boomerang, Cartoon Network, CNN, HLN, truTV and Turner Sports, bringing Turner's "Turn It Up" message to life for the invited audience members in attendance.
TNT has a strong lineup of 11 original series, nearly 260 hours of programming in all. The slate that includes such returning hits as The Last Ship, Legends, Murder in the First and The Librarians, as well as the new series Public Morals, Proof and Agent X. TNT also draws significant strength from its live specials and premier sports properties, such as the NBA regular season, playoffs and All-Star weekend; the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament; and the PGA Championship, the last major of the golf season.
Reilly's plans for TNT call for a shift in the focus and tone of its original programming. "TNT will continue to deliver great drama and live event specials, but our presentation and portfolio will look dramatically different," he said. "As we expand our portfolio, viewers should expect some very daring shows – some of which will not appeal to all of our current viewers but will be a lightning rod to attract new viewers."
To lead TNT's programming shift, Reilly recruited accomplished television and film producer Sarah Aubrey to serve as executive vice president of original programming for TNT, who has hit the ground running. Today, the network announced an eight-part drama and two pilot orders:
- The Alienist, an atmospheric, eight-part psychological thriller based on Caleb Carr's bestseller and set in the fascinating and gritty world of Gilded Age New York City, from Emmy® winner Cary Fukunaga, Oscar® winner Eric Roth and Oscar nominee Hossein Amini.
- Will, a series about a young William Shakespeare told in raucous style by Craig Pearce, the long-time writing partner of auteur filmmaker Baz Lurhmann.
- Animal Kingdom, a family crime drama set in a gritty surf community from executive producers John Wells and Jonathan Lisco.
Earlier this week, it was announced that TNT and TBS are the home of the Live Nation Music Awards, a new television event honoring the best live musical performances of the year. Set to be simulcast on both networks on Oct. 1, the star-studded awards ceremony will be produced by Live Nation Entertainment in collaboration with IMG and dick clark productions.
While TNT's evolution will involve incremental changes in the network's programming focus and tone, the revolution at TBS will involve a major reposition of the network's brand and programming, all of which is set to begin by the end of 2015, as well as a significant increase in original programming over the next couple of years.
"The new TBS will have a huge slate of originals, said Reilly, "awesomely in-your-face and effortlessly diverse live-action comedies, original animation, big unscripted ideas with attitude, late-night talk and, of course, championship sports."
Brett Weitz, executive vice president of original programming for TBS, is in charge over overseeing TBS's original programming slate, which is set to expand to more than 15 scripted and unscripted series over the next two years. The first wave of new TBS original series is set to hit in the fourth quarter of this year, with the eagerly anticipated Angie Tribeca – created by Steve & Nancy Carell – leading the pack.
Weitz and his team recently scored a major coup for the network by landing former Daily Show correspondents Samantha Bee and Jason Jones, who created the recently greenlit comedy The Detour. Jones stars in the new series, which will join Angie Tribeca on the TBS lineup in Q4.
Bee and Jones are also developing a new issues-oriented series for TBS. Bee is set to headline the new show, which was teased during the Upfront presentation:
Samantha Bee Teaser Video:
Also this fall, TBS will launch Separation Anxiety, a relationship-based game show with a unique twist.
Reilly announced two new TBS projects as part of the network's overhaul:
- Wrecked, a newly greenlit ensemble comedy from up-and-coming writers Justin Shipley & Jordan Shipley and executive producer Jesse Hara.
- The Group, a new comedy pilot about alien abductees from executive producer Conan O'Brien and The Office producer Greg Daniels.
Turning his focus to late night, Reilly trumpeted the success of TBS's CONAN, hosted by the one-and-only Conan O'Brien. One of the most buzz-generating hosts in late night, CONAN is a powerhouse in the digital realm, with a social media following that includes 16.4 million Twitter followers (more than any other late-night star on cable), 2.6 million Facebook fans, 4.6 million Google Plus followers and 2.7 million YouTube subscribers.
CONAN made headlines this past spring when O'Brien became the first late-night host to do a show from Cuba in more than 50 years. The show continues to generate significant buzz and social chatter when the late-night host ditches the studio and explores the world around with memorable remote segments – such as the show's "Clueless Gamer" bit with Richard Sherman and Rob Gronkowski from the Super Bowl this past year. CONAN is set to build on the remote excitement with six week-long trips to different cities and events. The fun will begin this July, when CONAN will once again break new ground as the first-ever late-night show to broadcast from San Diego during Comic-Con® International.
On the sports front, TBS provides coverage of Major League Baseball's regular and post-season play, including exclusive coverage this year of the National League Championship Series. TBS also provides coverage of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship Tournament and in 2016 will be the exclusive home for the Final Four and, for the first time, the National Championship Game.
Below is a rundown of TNT and TBS's newly announced programming and pilots.
TNT Greenlights The Alienist
TNT has greenlit The Alienist, a new eight-part drama series from Paramount Television, Anonymous Content, Emmy®-winning director Cary Fukunaga (True Detective, Jane Eyre, Sin Nombre), Academy Award®-winning producer Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, The Insider, Munich) and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Hossein Amini (The Wings of the Dove, Drive, The Two Faces of January). The Alienist is a co-production between TNT Original Productions and Paramount Television.
Based on the Anthony Award-winning New York Times bestseller by Caleb Carr, The Alienist is a fast-paced and atmospheric psychological thriller set in the fascinating and gritty world of Gilded Age New York City. After a series of haunting and gruesome murders, psychiatrist Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, newspaper reporter John Moore and police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt come together employing emerging disciplines of psychology and early crime investigation techniques to track down one of New York City’s first serial killers.
The Alienist will be executive produced by Fukunaga, Roth and Amini, as well as Anonymous Content's Steve Golin and Rosalie Swedlin. The partnership with Paramount Television represents a reunion between Kevin Reilly, who was formerly president of Brad Grey Television, and Brad Grey, the current Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures.
TBS Greenlights Wrecked
TBS has greenlit the new series Wrecked, a single-camera comedy from up-and-coming writers Justin Shipley & Jordan Shipley and producer Jesse Hara. The network has ordered 10 episodes of the series, which centers on a group of people starting from scratch after being stranded on an island. Moses Port (Community, Happy Endings) serves as executive producer and showrunner on Wrecked, which is being produced by TBS. The comedy is slated to launch in late 2015, with production scheduled to begin this summer.
Wrecked centers on a diverse group of people trying to adjust to life after being stranded on a remote island, a dangerous new world where they must face many threats – mostly brought on by themselves. No longer plugged into the rest of the world, the group struggles to navigate their makeshift society while also learning to live without such modern comforts as indoor plumbing, Wi-Fi, social media and Chipotle.
The pilot for Wrecked featured an ensemble cast that included Zack Creggar (About a Boy, Miss March), Ginger Gonzaga (Ted, The Morning After), Jessica Lowe (Blended, Glitch), Asif Ali (The 4 to 9ers: The Day Crew, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Ally Maki (2 Broke Girls, Hot in Cleveland), Will Greenberg (Cloverfield, Halt and Catch Fire), Brooke Dillman (Superbad, Bob's Burgers), James Scott (Days of Our Lives, The Stafford Project), George Basil (Roller Town, St. Peter Meets), Rhys Darby (What We Do in the Shadows, Yes Man) and Brian Sacca (The Wolf of Wall Street, Single Dads).
TNT & TBS Order a Trio of Pilots
The Group – TBS Pilot
A support group for people who think they have been abducted by aliens is the subject of a snarky feature piece by skeptical journalist Wyatt Jones. The more he digs into the oddballs’ claims, however, the more confused, intrigued and seduced he becomes. The Group is produced by Conaco in association with Warner Horizon Television. Conan O'Brien, Jeff Ross (CONAN, Eagleheart), David Kissinger (Eagleheart), Dan Halsted (Sunshine State, Any Given Sunday) and director Greg Daniels (The Office, Parks and Recreation) serve as executive producers on the pilot, which was written by co-executive producer David Jenkins.
Will – TNT Pilot
The wild story of young William Shakespeare's arrival onto the punk rock theater scene that was 16th century London – the seductive, violent world where his raw talent faced rioting audiences, religious fanatics and raucous side-shows. It's the hot, contemporary, dangerous version of Shakespeare's life, played to a modern soundtrack, exposing all his recklessness, lustful temptations and brilliance. Craig Pearce (The Great Gatsby, Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge) wrote the pilot for Will, which is being executive-produced by Pearce, Vince Gerardis (Game of Thrones, Flash Forward), Howard Braunstein (The Informant!, The Client List) and Louise Rosager.
Animal Kingdom – TNT Pilot
When 17-year-old Josh moves in with his wild, free-wheeling relatives in their Southern California beach town, he is pulled into their life of indulgence and excess. But after Josh discovers that it's all being funded by criminal activities, it suddenly becomes clear to him that joining the family comes with more danger and excitement than he might be ready to handle. This family crime drama comes to TNT from John Wells Productions in association with Warner Horizon Television, with Emmy® winner John Wells (TNT's Southland, ER, The West Wing, Shameless), Jonathan Lisco (TNT's Southland, Halt and Catch Fire, Damages, NYPD Blue), Andrew Stearn (TNT's Southland, The West Wing, Shameless, Third Watch), David Michd (Animal Kingdom film, The Rover) and Liz Watts (Animal Kingdom film, The Rover) serving as executive producers. Wells is set to direct the pilot from a script by Lisco. The project is inspired by the feature film produced by Watts and written & directed by Michd.
TNT is television's destination for drama. Seen in 101 million households and ranking among cable's top networks, TNT is home to such original drama series as Rizzoli & Isles, Major Crimes, Falling Skies, The Last Ship, Murder in the First, Legends, The Librarians and Transporter The Series. TNT's slate of upcoming scripted dramas includes Public Morals, Proof and Agent X. TNT also features such dramatic unscripted series as Cold Justice and the upcoming Cold Justice: Sex Crimes. In addition, TNT is the cable home to popular dramas like Castle, Bones, Supernatural and Grimm; primetime specials, such as the Screen Actors Guild Awards®; blockbuster movies; and championship sports coverage, including the NBA and the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.
TNT is part of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company. Turner Broadcasting creates and programs branded news; entertainment; kids and young adult; and sports media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.
Twitter: twitter.com/TNTDrama | twitter.com/TNTPR
Watch TNT app available for iOS and Android devices.
TBS is basic cable's #1 entertainment network among young adults in primetime. Available in 101 million households, TBS features such original comedies as American Dad!, Your Family or Mine and the upcoming Angie Tribeca and Clipped. TBS also features unscripted originals like King of the Nerds and Meet the Smiths. In late night TBS, is home to the Emmy®-winning series CONAN, starring Conan O'Brien. The TBS lineup also includes popular contemporary comedies, such as The Big Bang Theory and Family Guy, along with blockbuster movies and championship sports.
TBS is part of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company. Turner Broadcasting creates and programs branded news; entertainment; kids and young adult; and sports media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.
Twitter: twitter.com/TBSveryfunny | twitter.com/TBSPR
Watch TBS app available for iOS and Android devices.