Upfronts 2015: Turner Plots TBS Rebrand, TNT To Shift Focus & Ramp Up Scripted Originals

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Turner Upfront

After years of doing an Upfront Presentation on Mondays for Fox, Kevin Reilly found himself doing the same-thing on a Wednesday for his new employers, Turner Broadcasting. At today’s event, which was the first “unified Turner upfront”, Reilly, some six months into his tenure as head of TNT and TBS, unveiled a bold plan for the two networks.

That bold plan includes re-branding and re-invigorating TBS by the end of the calendar year and (largely expected) plans for a shift in tone at the drama focussed TNT, which will see the network move away from the “safe” procedurals that established the brand (such as The Closer and Rizzoli & Isles), in favour of edgier fare. Reilly also announced plans to significantly increase the number of original series they air on both TNT and TBS.

“We’re on the move in a big way at TNT and TBS”, said Kevin Reilly, President of TBS and TNT and Chief Content Officer for Turner Entertainment. “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.”

In addition to the strategic moves, Kevin Reilly also announced that TNT has picked up 8 episode limited series The Alienist, and new drama pilots Will and Animal Kingdom; while TBS has ordered two new comedy projects from such auspices as Justin Shipley, Jordan Shipley, Conan O’Brien and Greg Daniels.

Full Details Of The New Series & Pilot Orders Follows Below:

TNT

The Alienist

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 eight episode limited series is based on the New York Times bestseller by Caleb Carr and hails from True Detective’s Cary Fukunaga, Eric Roth and Hossein Amini. The project is set up at TNT Originals, Paramount Television and Anonymous Content. The executive producers are Cary Fukunaga, Eric Roth, Hossein Amini, Steve Golin and Rosalie Swedlin.

Will

Penned by Craig Pearce, Will tells the 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. The pilot is being produce by TNT Originals and is being executive-produced by Pearce, Vince Gerardis, Howard Braunstein and Louise Rosager.

Animal Kingdom

Based on the feature film, Animal Kingdom, from John Wells and Warner Horizon Television, is a family crime drama which follows 17-year-old Josh, who moves in with his wild, free-wheeling relatives in their Southern California beach town and 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. Jonathan Lisco penned the script and serves as an executive producer alongside John Wells, Andrew Stearn, David Michôd and Liz Watts.

TBS

Wrecked

After piloting the comedy earlier this year, TBS has handed out a 10 episode series order to Wrecked – a single-camera comedy from up-and-coming writers Justin Shipley & Jordan Shipley and producer Jesse Hara. The series centers on a group of people starting from scratch after being stranded on an island. The comedy is being produced in-house and stars Zack Creggar (About a Boy), Ginger Gonzaga (Ted), Jessica Lowe (Glitch), Asif Ali (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Ally Maki (Hot in Cleveland), Will Greenberg (Cloverfield), Brooke Dillman (Superbad), James Scott (The Stafford Project), George Basil (St. Peter Meets), Rhys Darby (Yes Man) and Brian Sacca (Single Dads).

The Group

Comedy pilot The Group follows 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, David Kissinger, Dan Halsted and director Greg Daniels serve as executive producers on the pilot, which was written by co-executive producer David Jenkins.

  • Carol Sundahl

    When will “Rizzoli & Isles” get to go “edgier”? TNT’s top rated show has tantalized viewers for five seasons, teasing us with Jane and Maura as just best friends. The chemistry calls for lesbian love. Now’s the time!