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Eclectic mix for Viacom

Apr 15, 2002  •  Post A Comment

TV Land will launch “60 Minutes Classics,” a weekly half-hour show featuring interviews with TV personalities such as Jerry Seinfeld and Carol Burnett from the archives of the long-running CBS newsmagazine. “60 Minutes” correspondent Ed Bradley will host the show, which will premiere this fall.
Nick at Nite has picked up “Coach” and “Roseanne,” two signature sitcoms from the late ’80s and ’90s that will debut this fall and in fall 2003, respectively.
And at TNN: The National Network, “Joe Duffy,” an animated prime-time sitcom, and “Oblivious,” a hidden-camera game show, are in the works. The shows are part of the re-branding youth movement at what once was a country lifestyles network but is now evolving into a targeted network where the demo “sweet spot” is young men 25 to 34.
These are just some of the projects that are expected to be announced at the TNN and Nick at Nite/TV Land upfront presentations this week and next, said Herb Scannell, president of Nickelodeon, TV Land and TNN, in an interview last week.
The development deal for “Joe Duffy” is one example of the new direction at TNN. That show, about a different kind of family guy, who has both a gay daughter and a priest in the family, is from Ed. Weinberger (“Taxi,” “The Cosby Show”) and Nelvana Studios. It’s the first of what will be TNN’s push into the animation genre.
Coming this summer to TNN is “Oblivious,” the hidden-camera game show from Stone Stanley Entertainment in which person-on-the-street contestants don’t know they’re on television, much less that they’re winning money, as they answer seemingly innocent questions posed by a stranger.
Mr. Scannell, who has headed Nickelodeon and TV Land since 1996 and TNN since Sept 2000, can point to solid ratings performances at all three networks and a seemingly successful demographic turn at TNN since the re-branding began.
At TNN, “We promised that we would be a younger network, and we’ve gone from 57 to 36. I don’t know if anybody’s ever done that,” Mr. Scannell said. “We did it without dropping ratings.”
The TNN game plan is taken “from the old Fox playbook,” he said. “What Fox did to the broadcast networks of the ’80s, we want to do to the general entertainment [cable] networks [of today]. … It’s about the demo rating, not the household rating.”
Mr. Scannell also plans to steal another page from that Fox playbook. “Animation in prime time is a mark we want to make [at TNN],” Mr. Scannell said. To do that, the network will draw on the experience and contacts accumulated by Nickelodeon, which has its own animation studio in Los Angeles.
“We want people to understand that the new TNN comes from the MTV Networks,” Mr. Scannell said. “This is an audience that we’ve been tracking since 1982. This is the audience that grew up with MTV. This is the audience that now we’re making an entertainment network for. … We’re going to go into places that other networks have abandoned,” he said of the new emphasis on animation for prime time.
The goal at TNN is to get to the 50 percent original-programming level by 2005, Mr. Scannell said. Overall, TNN has 30 projects in current development, including six animated series, six game shows and four sports entertainment series. The others are comedies or reality series. Five series are in development at Nickelodeon, including four live-action shows.