TV Land Orders Up Pilots

Network branches out into scripted programming

TV Land is in the market for homegrown sitcoms.

Viacom cabler is venturing into the arena of original scripted series for the first time, giving cast-contingent pilot orders last week to two projects, one from Sean Hayes' Hazy Mills shingle, the other from sitcom vets Mindy Schultheis and Michael Hanel.

TV Land is hoping to have as many as three original laffers ready to roll by July after it adds reruns of "Everybody Loves Raymond" to its slate of vintage sitcoms.

Most network and basic cable laffers target adults 18-49, but TV Land prexy Larry Jones sees an opening for the cabler to deliver traditional multicamera yuks to a slightly older demographic, adults 40-54.

"It's a natural progression for us," Jones told Daily Variety. "There's not that many (original) shows being made for the audience that comes to us for our classic sitcoms. It's a format that our viewers are very comfortable with."

It's also welcome news in the creative community, where comedy series gigs have been in short supply on the major nets. The cabler has fielded nonscripted originals for several years, but the expansion into scripted marks a sizable financial commitment from Viacom.

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