Schwartz Wades Into ‘Schitt’s Creek’ #TCA15

President touts former TV Guide Network’s unexpected move into scripted
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Scripted comedy Schitt’s Creek is scheduled to premiere Feb. 11 on the former TV Guide Network, roughly one month after the channel’s scheduled Jan. 14 relaunch under the name Pop. It will be the network’s first foray into scripted programming—a move that wasn’t part of a larger roadmap.

“It’s a small, emerging network—we have to watch our pennies very closely,” network president Brad Schwartz said Friday during an executive session at the TCA winter press tour. “I think we all thought we were going to build this network out of some great reality hits, then two or three years from now get into the scripted business. Then this dream of a show came to us.” The series was commissioned by Canada’s CBC and produced by Not a Real Company.

Red carpet coverage, a staple of TV Guide Network, will continue to play an important role at Pop. Schwartz touted the network’s new partnership with Entertainment Tonight, whose red-carpet awards-show coverage Pop will carry live.

“Our advertisers certainly expect us to be in the red carpet business,” said Schwartz, who noted that the late Joan Rivers used to do red-carpet coverage on TV Guide Network. When CBS, which co-owns Pop with Lionsgate, joined as a partner in the network, a collaboration with Entertainment Tonight, produced by CBS, became feasible. “Entertainment Tonight, through their history, are the first spot on the carpet for all these shows. A funny little thing that no one realizes is that they’ve never gone live from the red carpet.”

Schwartz also announced several unscripted projects in development, including Losing It—based on a digital series produced by Morgan Spurlock and John Stamos—Elvis Duran Project, Celebrity Inc. and Worst Ever.

Other highlights from the panel included:

• Schwartz, asked about the controversy surrounding comedian Bill Cosby and whether his network would be interested in picking up reruns of The Cosby Show. Schwartz referred to TV Guide Network’s decision to pull reruns of 7th Heaven following the release of audio recordings in which star Stephen Collins confessed to molesting multiple children. “We just thought when these allegations came out that we didn’t need to air it,” Schwartz said. “It wasn’t a big hit show for us. It wasn’t something we were promoting. It was an easy decision. I think the Cosby thing is a little bigger.”

• Schwartz attempted to differentiate Pop’s overall tone from that of other networks focused on celebrity and popular culture. Referring to Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon, Schwartz said, “The way he interacts with the celebrity is just so fun and inspiring and viral, and if you could bottle that and create a brand out of that, it’s really kind of a north star for us. I think that is very different than what E! is doing.”

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