CBS, TV Land Team for Stunt

Sep 6, 2004  •  Post A Comment

To launch its new season, CBS is getting a hand from a sister network that still runs CBS hits from the days when it was top-rated and called the Tiffany Network.

Stars of new and returning CBS shows, including Mare Winningham and Charlie Sheen, will appear on TV Land all next week as part of a stunt during which the cable network will air premiere and season-opening episodes of such classic shows as “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “All in the Family” during prime time.

CBS will also enlist marketing help from the other Viacom-owned cable networks, including VH1, which will promote some CBS mysteries, and Spike TV, which will roll out its two-hour prime-time block of “CSI,” CBS’s top show.

For TV Land, having A-list talent from CBS boosts the coolness quotient of its vintage programming.

“This will expose our viewers to the fact that some of the people who are fans of these shows are famous,” said Larry Jones, president of TV Land and Nick at Night. “It makes the club feel bigger.”

Mr. Jones added that without all the classic programming that appeared on CBS, it would be hard to have a TV Land.

CBS is mostly after TV Land viewers in the 35-plus demographic for its comedies and its new light drama “Clubhouse,” said George Schweitzer, executive VP. “They have a solid base among the younger baby boomers,” he said. It also attracts some younger viewers who watch “Mister Ed” and marvel at the black-and-white special effects, he added.

More important, Mr. Schweitzer said, TV Land viewers are people who like TV. In the vignettes, stars of CBS shows talk about classic shows they like.

For example, on Monday, Sept. 13, Jason Alexander and Malcolm-Jamal Warner of “Listen Up,” both of whom starred in pretty significant sitcoms themselves, introduce the first episode of “Dick Van Dyke.”

Mr. Schweitzer said TV Land executives came up with the concept of using premiere episodes from TV history to promote CBS’s premiere week. “They’re very cooperative. They come with ideas,” he said. “It’s a good match with the classic TV programming that used to be on CBS and the classic programming that is CBS.”

Classic shows that aired on networks other than CBS are included in the stunt as well. On Wednesday Jeremy Sumpter and Ms. Winningham of “Clubhouse” introduce an episode of “The Brady Bunch,” which originally aired on ABC, and on Friday Jon Cryer and Mr. Sheen introduce “Cheers,” originally an NBC hit.

Other actors taking part in the TV Land promotion include Kevin James, Brad Garrett, Peter Boyle, Jerry Stiller and Jami Gertz. Other classic shows appearing during the week on TV Land include “Leave It to Beaver,” “Three’s Company,” “Happy Days,” “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Bonanza.”

“The cool thing is a lot of the talent had very specific opinions about the shows,” Mr. Jones said, noting that Mr. Sheen seemed to be a huge “Brady Bunch” fan.

TV Land will promote the appearance of the CBS talent before and during the stunt. CBS has bought ad time during the stunt to promote its premiere week.

Other CBS shows will get a boost from VH1, which will run a series of vignettes using the slogan “The mysteries of rock ‘n’ roll.” The vignettes will promote CBS’s “CSI” franchise and “Without a Trace.”

And Mr. Schweitzer said CBS has bought time on all of the Viacom cable networks and has matched them to support appropriate shows. Young-skewing MTV and Comedy Central will be used for CBS’s reality series “Survivor,” he said.

Next up for TV Land is a 35th anniversary reunion of “The Brady Bunch,” which all of the Brady “kids” have agreed to participate in, Mr. Jones said.