Bochco Gives TNT Props for Series

Steven Bochco, creator and executive producer of TNT’s new legal series, Raising the Bar, recently lauded the cable network for carving out a real identity and home for scripted dramas.

“They’ve really done a brilliant job of creating a menu of shows that thematically are compatible,” Bochco, famed for such series as Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue, said at the Television Critics Association summer tour on July 11. “TNT now has an identity.”

Multiple Emmy-winner Bochco and cast members of his new show — Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Jane Kaczmarek and Gloria Reuben — and co-creator David Feige talked up the new effort in a panel session. Raising The Bar premieres Sept. 1.

Michael Wright, senior vice president of Turner Entertainment Networks’ Content Creation Group, said legal, medical and police shows all contain strong characters and conflict, which makes for good dramatic fodder. TNT is also home to The Closer and Saving Grace, both of which debuted new seasons last week (see story, page 4).

Wright isn’t daunted about premiering Raising the Bar in the fall when the Big Four also start their new seasons. At some point, you have to trust your programming “and jump in with both feet,” Wright said.

TNT has committed to run originals in primetime Monday through Wednesday by 2010, Wright added.

In December, the network will debut Leverage, the first regular TV series from Independence Day producer Dean Devlin and starring Timothy Hutton as the head of a team of “thieves, hackers and grifters” who help normal people seek revenge against those who use power and wealth to victimize others.

Expect a “fun, bouncy” tone focusing on five members of the Leverage team who are broken in one way or another. “Separately, they’re not so great. Together, wonderful,” Devlin said.

In other Turner network news:

  • CNN will anchor its Democratic and Republican convention coverage live from the delegation floors — at the Pepsi Center in Denver from Aug. 25 to 28 and the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., from Sept. 1 to 4. CNN chief national correspondent John King argued the conventions are not “dinosaurs” but are compelling opportunities for election coverage. “I’ve done six of these, and this is by far the most consequential in my lifetime,” he said. “If I can’t convey that, I should go back to bartending. This is an enormously consequential election.”
  • CNN also will launch the iReport Film Festival, the network’s first user-generated short-film competition, to give voters a platform to document the presidential campaign from their personal vantage point. Winning submissions, judged by users and a panel of judges from the movie and TV industry, will be unveiled during Anderson Cooper 360 on Nov. 13.
  • Cartoon Network promises Star Wars fans the equivalent of a new movie every week with its Clone Wars series, executive-produced by George Lucas. The 22-episode, high-definition animated series, set for an Aug. 10 debut, will follow the action launched in the theatrical films. Clone Wars will anchor an evening programming block that will include Batman: The Brave and the Bold from Warner Bros. as well as returning series Ben 10.