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TCA: ‘Cougar Town’ Creator on Move to TBS -- More Network Promotion, But It’s the Same Show

Pasadena, Calif. — The cast and executive producers of Cougar Town kicked off the 2013 winter press tour here Friday morning, taking a stage they weren’t sure they would ever see again

TBS of course picked up the fourth season of the comedy after ABC dropped the series last spring, and creator/executive producer Bill Lawrence wasn’t shy about the new-found support he’s seen so far from his new network.

“There’s like commercials for the show now, it’s insane,” he chided.

Lawrence said that fans of the show, however, should notice no difference to the essence of Cougar Town’s with its move from network to cable, and that his goal for someone watching reruns is for them to not be able to tell which episodes are from the third season or the fourth.

“Transition-wise it was easy because Michael [Wright] was a fan of the show,” he said. “He told us we want you guys to deliver the same show as the past three years.”

“I think we were all curious how the transition would be,” star Busy Philipps added, saying that since the cast appeared at TBS’ upfront last May everyone has been so enthusiastic. “It was really refreshing. It was a new energy this season filming it. As far as content, we’ve been able to do a little bit edgier stuff.”

That includes some more nudity (the newly-married characters of Courteney Cox and Josh Hopkins have a “naked day” in an upcoming episode) and possible cursing (the title card of the season premiere says “Thanks, TBS. Can we curse on TV now?”). But despite the premiere’s first scene featuring the cul-de-sac crew referencing the show’s nearly year-long absence, Lawrence said he tried to resist doing too many meta jokes.

“It is attractive to comedy writers to do meta comedy but it is a slippery slope. I thought it was appropriate here with moving to TBS. People are often looking for us to make shots at ABC and Disney, but they’re still the owners of the show and I think they’re doing a great job,” he said somewhat in jest.

And part of TBS wanting the same show that had aired on ABC was keeping the title Cougar Town, despite Lawrence often making fun of the fact that it no longer fits the show’s premise. Michael Wright, president and head of programming for TNT, TBS and TCM said the network wanted to take advantage of the existing marketing and name recognition around the title in the hopes of building a hit that will attract more creators to the network.

“It’s a show that we hope draws ratings,” Wright said. “Hopefully if you are a showrunner, you look at that and say I should give them a shot.”