Posted at 10:05 a.m. ET
TBS is entering the late night fray with a variety show hosted by popular comedian George Lopez. The new show, which is still untitled, premieres in November and will be stripped Monday through Thursday at 11 p.m. It will forego the typical guest-on-the-couch format for an “outdoor street party” atmosphere, according to Steve Koonin, president, Turner Entertainment Networks.
The late-night landscape is in a particularly pronounced period of upheaval. Already Conan O’Brien has handed off Late Night to Jimmy Fallon. When Jay Leno departs the Tonight Show at the end of May, he will be leaving for primetime, a move that has been widely viewed as undercutting new Tonight host O’Brien, who will make his debut on June 1. Leno’s 10 p.m. NBC program is scheduled to bow this fall.
Many parties see potential in the roiling of the late-night waters. ABC entertainment is still maneuvering to get the 11:30 p.m. time slot away from the news division and Nightline.Late Show host David Letterman is currently in talks with CBS executives about extending his contract beyond 2010. And Comcast Entertainment Group this week finalized a new deal with E! late night host Chelsea Handler that will keep her at the network through 2012.
“Jay and Dave are 123 when you add them together,” quips Koonin. “We have found that comedy is a magnet for youth and diversity is a magnet for youth. We’re going to take advantage of the youth that comes along with diversity. George Lopez, who has a tremendous following in the Hispanic market and the African-American market and the general market, will be doing something that isn’t being done in late night.”
Lopez won’t be sitting behind a desk “interviewing other old people,” adds Koonin, rather his show will “hearken more to the old Arsenio Hall show” with live music, comedy acts and of course, celebrity guests.
TBS has had considerable success with comedy including The Bill Engvall Show and Tyler Perry’s House of Payne and Meet the Browns. House of Payne is the No. 1 original sitcom on ad-supported cable. Its premiere in June 2007 is still cable’s most-watched sitcom telecast.
The Lopez program is from 2.2 Productions, paraMedia Inc. and Telepictures Productions in association with Warner Horizon Television. Lopez and Jim Paratore are the executive producers.
TBS’ current late night entry 10 Items or Less has finished its run. The fate of that program has yet to be decided.