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Forum’s Focus is Family-Friendly Shows

Apr 14, 2003  •  Post A Comment

The Family Friendly Programming Forum is considering about 15 scripts from four broadcast networks it might back through its Family Friendly Script Development Fund.
The Forum, which is made up of 40 major national advertisers who are members of the Association of National Advertisers, encourages networks to develop more family-friendly programming by giving them seed money to buy family-oriented scripts. If a script is ordered to pilot, then the network gives the money back to the forum to use for development next year.
The WB has ordered six pilots that were submitted as scripts for Fund backing. They are the drama Immediate Family (Spelling TV), starring Lori Loughlin; and sitcoms Courtship of Eddie’s Father (Warner Bros. TV/Pariah); Run of the House (Warner Bros. TV/The Tannenbaum Co.); Exit 9 (Warner Bros. TV); Like Family (Warner Bros. TV); and Mr. Logan (Paramount Pictures TV), starring Bow Wow, which was pushed back to midseason.
CBS submitted two sitcom scripts that are cast-contingent on whether they go forward as pilots. They are Family Show (Sony) and an as yet untitled project from Rob Long and Dan Stanley about a widower with two kids who works at the family bar (Paramount). NBC submitted the sitcom script for the Tracy Morgan project (Carsey-Werner-Mandabach/NBC Studios/SNL Studios), based on Mr. Morgan’s life. ABC has not yet decided which scripts to submit for Fund backing.
Barbara Bacci Mirque, senior VP of the ANA, said this year the Forum started working with ABC, CBS, NBC and The WB earlier by having them submit potential concepts in November and December. The Forum winnowed those down to about 15 for which they wanted to see scripts. Members of the Forum are currently reading those scripts to decide which ones meet their family-friendly criteria and merit backing.
Ms. Bacci Mirque said there is no limit to the number of scripts they would deem family friendly, but the amount of reimbursement money is limited. The amount of money the Family Friendly Script Development Fund has to spend depends on how many advertisers participate in the Fund. This year, 16 companies are participating, she said.
While technically Family Friendly Forum-backed scripts that get picked up as series receive no money, they get the group’s seal of approval indicating that they are safe shows on which to advertise. By paying for scripts that don’t make it to pilot, Ms. Bacci Mirque said the Forum is trying to encourage networks to buy a few extra scripts they otherwise might not develop.
Series on the air this season that received Family Friendly Forum backing include The WB’s Gilmore Girls and Family Affair; NBC’s American Dreams; and ABC’s 8 Simple Rules and Veritas: The Quest.