Comedy Tonight

TBS brands itself the "very funny" network

In the Turner clan, TNT is the drama queen. Now sister network TBS wants billing as comedic relief. Come June, TBS will nix the "Superstation" surname and capitalize on its humor focus with a fresh branding campaign. According to network execs, TBS is "very funny."

Of course, TBS needs more than a slogan to make viewers laugh. It already offers sitcom faves Seinfeld, Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Home Improvement. Come June 15, Sex & the City
will join TBS for its first post-HBO run. (TBS has exclusive syndication rights until September 2005, when the broadcast window kicks in.)

TBS also is adding two lighthearted reality series. The first, come June, is Outback Jack,
a romantic reality show where city girls compete for the affections of an Australian cowboy. A reality remake of Gilligan's Island
will debut in December.

The remodeling job at TBS is similar to TNT's makeover a few years ago, when the channel adopted its "We know drama," tag, an attempt to lasso its dramatic off-nets, movies, and sports.

TBS is angling for comedy-loving upscale 25-40ish viewers. But it has to compete in the quest with sitcoms all over cable. "We are going to be the epicenter of funny," promises TNT and TBS COO Steve Koonin.

Over at TNT, the network plans to order three drama pilots and will take one to series for summer 2005. Five contenders are in development: The System, about a hot-shot Miami prosecutor; a crime drama about an LAPD special scam unit from Third Watch
creator John Ridley; another LAPD drama, this one centering on a SWAT team from Spelling TV; Hell's Kitchen, a family crime show; and a medical series about trauma specialists.

TNT already has two limited series in the works. The Grid,
a counter-terrorism drama co-produced with the BBC, will air in July. Steven Spielberg's 12-hour Into the West
is slated for summer 2005.