TBS on Original Movies: Cut!

Looking to firmly establish a new, younger-skewing brand, TBS Superstation is
scrapping its original-movie initiative.

TBS is abandoning original movies at a time when its telepics are earning
dynamite numbers for it, with the network’s most recent one, shark thriller
Red Water,posting a 5.0 household rating in its Aug. 17

Nonetheless, made-for-TV movies do not fit the new brand Turner Broadcasting
System Inc. is trying to carve out for TBS, according to Steve Koonin, executive
vice president and chief operating officer for the Turner Entertainment

"We’re sitting here enjoying the success of Red Water, but we are also
fully aware that while it may work for today’s strategy, it won’t work for
tomorrow’s," Koonin said Thursday.

After successfully creating the "We Know Drama" brand for Turner Network
Television, Koonin was promoted in April and given the additional task of
running TBS.

About six weeks ago, Koonin said he and Turner Entertainment president Mark
Lazarus came to the conclusion that TBS should stop doing made-for-TV films. TBS
has been doing about five original movies per year, reportedly in the $4
million-$5 million range each.

Any money going toward telepics -- 10 hours of programming -- would be better
spent on new, original nonscripted series, or "light entertainment," as Koonin
called it.

"It seemed like a smart idea to trade those 10 high-cost hours and put [the
money] into something that can help us to build our brand and help us to
reinforce who we are, and [that will] play extremely well with our [off-network]
comedy series," Koonin said.

As a result of TBS’ change of strategy, a handful of jobs will eventually be
gone. Tana Nugent-Jamieson, VP of original programming, movies, and Margie
Moreno, director of development, will be working on other projects for TBS and
will stay around until the spring.

Koonin wouldn’t disclose any details of TBS’ new positioning yet. He said the
network is still doing research, with 2,000 consumers, and it plans to unveil
its new brand at the upfront next year.