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TelevisionWeek Managing Editor Melissa Grego is tapping into Hollywood's penchant for the working meal with her TVWeek.com feature, Mel's Diner. Ms. Grego sits down with television industry players at their favorite restaurants, giving readers a window into the minds -- and appetites -- of industry heavyweights.

As each Mel's Diner guest dishes about what they're working on, planning and thinking about, Ms. Grego provides a unique view of the television business from the insiders perspective.

TVWeek.com invites fans of Mel's Diner to report back in the comments section on the meals, deals, or anything at all that is eating them about what the featured players have to say.

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Mel's Diner

Mel's Diner: Larry Jones

March 21, 2007 2:24 PM

The Dish: Schlemeel! Schlemazel! … TV Land’s gonna do it.

The network’s president, Larry Jones, said he is developing a loosely scripted show featuring the real Laverne & Shirley, Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams. As themselves.

Who: Larry Jones, president, TV Land
Where: Nishimura
When: Wednesday, March 13, lunch

The Dish: Schlemeel! Schlemazel! … TV Land’s gonna do it.

The network’s president, Larry Jones, said he is developing a loosely scripted show featuring the real Laverne & Shirley, Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams. As themselves.

He said a pilot, with the duo living together at Penny’s house, is scheduled to shoot next month. It would pair the actresses in a series for the first time since collaborating on the long-running sitcom, “Laverne & Shirley.”

And, omigod, “Make all our dreams come true/For me and youuuu.” (Sing it!). At least it would for me. … This working woman has always been a fan of “Laverne & Shirley.”

The show is one of several new originals New York-based Larry was in Los Angeles to meet on when we had lunch.

To complement the net’s classic TV lineup, Larry’s looking to expand his stable of new shows designed to appeal to TVLand’s target demo, Baby Boomers (40 to 54 year olds, or as TVLand says, the first generation of Americans to grow up alongside television).

He’s hunting for everything--reality, game, loosely scripted fare.

In addition to the real-life Laverne & Shirley project, TV Land is considering a show with George Foreman, who Larry calls the “poster child for reinventing yourself in the second part of life.”

He’s also eyeing a TV Land take on “My Super Sweet 16,” a popular reality series on sibling Viacom-owned network MTV. (TV Land would peg shows to 40th birthdays.)

In August, Larry expects to roll out TV Land’s version of “High School Reunion,” which ran for two seasons on The WB. The original featured 10 year reunions. TV Land is going with 20-year gatherings.

Larry spends three or four days every three weeks or so in Los Angeles, largely to talk to folks about originals.

He stays at the Four Seasons and each morning comes downstairs, camps out and takes pitches all day. It sounded like speed dating the way he described it.

During his last trip he decided to see how many Arnold Palmers he could down in a sitting. The record was 10.

Note to producers: He admits to being wound up after that much sugar and caffeine, so beware of late-in-the-day pitches. (Just jokes. I saw him handle Nishimura’s green iced tea. He can hold his caffeine.)

Larry remains on the lookout for the best way to hook a Boomer up, ie., he’d like to find the right show about dating. It’s an important part of life to many Baby Boomers, according to TV Land research.

There’s lots of TV Land research on the demo by the way.

Viacom’s MTV Networks have a knack for making a business out of serving the demo most interested in a type of programming.

(Read: MTV, Nickelodeon, even Spike, Comedy Central, BET.)

“What we’re doing is in the heritage, the DNA of MTV Nets,” said Larry, who has been with the company since 1988. Incidentally he replaced Rich Cronin, the GSN honcho who joined me for Mel’s Diner earlier this year, at TV Land when Rich left for a different gig.

“We stand for classic TV, we love classic TV,” Larry said. “Boomers were 75 percent of our audience. We thought, 'Is there a way to build a stronger bond not only with lovers of the genre but the demographic?'"

Larry and TV Land are likely to talk in more detail about the shows they’re cooking up and how they serve the net’s mission in New York on Friday. That’s when they’re holding their upfront presentation for advertisers. Boomer and former President Bill Clinton will be the keynote speaker.

Dined On: Sushi!

I’ve now been to two very different sushi joints while reporting Mel’s Diner and they could not have been more different.

Larry Jones recommended Nishimura in West Hollywood. Recently I met Telepictures boss Hilary Estey McLoughlin at Katsu-ya in Studio City.

Nishimura is discreetly located in an ivy-covered building on Melrose across from the Pacific Design Center. It’s bright, elegant, austerely appointed and quiet inside.

They serve traditional sushi, but a Mexican influence seemed apparent. Larry pointed out they were playing Mexican music. The green iced tea with lime in it could be mistaken for a margarita on the rocks. And the appetizer we shared featured pieces of fresh yellowtail with jalapeno and cilantro on it.

The frenetic, crammed Katsu-ya has yellowtail with jalapeno too, but not the cilantro. Or the Mexican music or the margaritas, er, green iced tea with lime (at least that I saw).

What’s your favorite sushi joint?


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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Mel's Diner: Larry Jones:

» Rick On Media Blog » TV Land Plans ‘Laverne And Shirley’ Real Life Pilot from
[...] In what could be one of the dumbest ideas of all time, TVLand has ordered a pilot for an updated Laverne and Shirley series. [...] [Read More]

» TV Land To Make All Penny Marshall And Cindy Williams’s Employment Dreams Come True at from
[...] Studios have displayed an increasing reluctance to call upon the droning, nasal direction of Penny Marshall, who hasn’t helmed a feature since 2001’s Riding in Cars with Boys. (Her Kazakh tween terror project was, unfortunately, yet another reality-blurring concoction of the Entourage writers’ room.) Marshall knows the adapt-or-perish Hollywood drill, however, as TVWeek.com reports that she is returning to familiar territory–and giving it a contemporary, semi-improvised spin–for her next project, throwing employment-challenged former Laverny & Shirley co-star Cindy Williams a bone while she’s at it: [TV Land]’s president, Larry Jones, said he is developing a loosely scripted show featuring the real Laverne & Shirley, Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams. As themselves. He said a pilot, with the duo living together at Penny’s house, is scheduled to shoot next month. It would pair the actresses in a series for the first time since collaborating on the long-running sitcom, “Laverne & Shirley.” [...] [Read More]

Comments (16)

Lenny Rakes:

The guy (Larry Jones) is an idiot! Leave the MTV style shows for MTV and the real classic shows for TV Land.


Interesting. Could be fun for a while. Not quite the "dumbest" idea as some posters would like to think. It's TV Land. What's the problem?. None.


I would and will watch this without a doubt. I think it is a great idea right up TV Lands alley!!!!


Ok, well I don't know about OTHER baby boomers but I would love to see the ORIGINAL shows of some series again. I am really dying to see the Partridge Family again. I still have all their albums and listen to them all the time!! And the Brady bunch. How about bringing some of them back instead of going for the reality crap that is on every channel. To be honest, I would rather see the old Laverne and Shirley instead of anything new. Sorry. It's nostalgia! Give us back our oldies!


Laverne & Shirley brought a lot of laughs and fun to the tv screen. Can they do it again? That remains to be seen. But looking at the garbage on tv now that passes as comedy, they could likely do a much better job than a majority of stuff on now. Hope Laverne remembers to wear the L on her blouse.


Why mess with a classic? I think it would be great if they did it as a "flashback" type senario. Having Penny thinking "What would Laverne do?" And seeing a flashback from one of the shows/skits, or having Cindy wondering "How would Shirley get out of this mess?" and daydream and flashback to one of her favorite episodes. Then, we as the audience would get the best of both worlds. Just a thought.


I LOVE IT! I would definitely watch it. I have been a fan of this show since it was originally on and it was similar to what my roommate and I were like at the time. The theme song from the show is my ring tone on my cell phone for when my ex-roommate calls me...yes we are still friends!

Paul Pasma:

I Love Laverne & Shirley! Are u Kidding me? I'll watch it! I agree with Tonya do it as a flashback scenario that would be so cool and original. Bring it on!

Dr. Eddie Anker:

Wonder if they will bring back Joel Zwick to direct - He did such a fabulous job on "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" - He's an icon with Laverne and Shirley - Hope they do

michael c wright:

i think that laverne and shirley would be great to see again... ..I think that the concept is wrong.. i wrote earlier that i think a better i idea would be, that the two of them are living togther again now being widows or one is also divorced. each of them helping each other or shoudl say goofing up all the way there while putting there lives back toogther.
i was big fan growing up and love teh both of them.. u can really have a big hit if u really make something out of it.


i can't really stand these new concepts and shows. they play whatever show at whatever time with no scheduling. i'm pretty fed up with trying to catch my favorite oldies on tv land. and 2 episodes of star trek in the morning - yeesh. sorry, trekkies, but you either love that show or, like me, you hate it. give us back our tv land. dump the stupid interview programs and reality themes. WHO NEEDS IT!!! The classic shows STAND UP ON THEIR OWN.

larry i am so excited that tv land is brining laverrne and shirley back i meet cindy williams in portland , at a hot rod show back in febuary 2005 , and i am a big fan of shirley feeney cindy williams , im so happy this is going to be great espically for the laverne and shirley fans cindy williams and penny marshall well come home laverne and shirley sincerley kelly brester laverne and shirley fan


Are you freakin kiddin me, you bet your sweet ass I'll be watching.It would be awesome to see what they are like now and see if they still have the chemistry they obviously had on the L & S show. I don't get why TVLand doesn't show Laverne & Shirley re-runs.I don't ever remember them showing the shows. I don't get it on any channel, that sucks ass. For all you haters, you must be unhappy people, poor you, NOT! Go hate somewhere else like up your ass!!!!


As cool as it would be to have Laverne and Shirley back on the air. The idea of doing it as a reality show, STINKS. TVLand should be for classic and rare TV shows (one hit wonders) only. Get rid of the movies and original programming and bring back classics from the 50's to the 80's.

There are already too many reality shows as it is.


I think you should bring back the original laverne and shirley and have the nre reality series.. that way everyones happy and they have a choice to watch what they want.


TV Land sucks now, and Larry Jones is the reason. He's a moron.

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