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Upfronts 2016: truTV Greenlights Three Series - Broadcasting & Cable

Upfronts 2016: truTV Greenlights Three Series

Revamped comedy network also orders five new pilots and sets live ‘Jokers’ special
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truTV, Turner Broadcasting’s experiment showcasing comedy programming and fewer commercials, has picked up three new series, which will be part of its upfront pitch.

Turner will have its upfront presentation on May 18, Wednesday of what used to be broadcast week. But the company decided to announce what’s happening at truTV a bit early.

truTV rebranded in 2014, shifting from reality shows to unscripted comedy shows aimed at the younger millennial generation.

No surprise, ratings plummeted as the network's incumbent viewers tuned out and new viewers came slowly. But in the past two quarters ratings have stabilized as new shows attract a younger audience. truTV now says the median age of its viewers is 35, down three years from the same period a year ago, a neat feat at a time when most networks are getting older.

For next season, new shows on the network will include JonGlaser Loves Gear, Greatest Ever and Lifescaping.  truTV is also going ahead with two specials, The Problem with Apu, a feature-length documentary from comedian Hari Kondabolu, and a new Impractical Jokers live special.

The network also has new programming in development and ordered pilots for six shows.

With its current series, truTV ordered new seasons of Fameless, Hack My Life and Those Who Can’t. Additional episodes have been ordered for first-year shows Comedy Knockout and Rachel Dratch’s Late Night Snack.

“Having successfully re-launched truTV in 2014, we have now turned a corner when it comes to premium content,” said truTV president Chris Linn. “The new truTV is built around compelling, creator-driven shows featuring clear points of view and unique takes on different topics and formats, all told through a strong comedic lens. Armed with this momentum and a fresh slate of programming from a diverse group of talent, we are building on a solid foundation and brand promise that is breaking through and clearly resonating with a growing audience of highly-coveted fans.”

Last year, Turner also announced that truTV would dramatically cut the number of ads it runs. Beginning in Q4 of 2016 all of the networks’ 45 hours of original programming per quarter will have enough room for 20% more show content. Turner says the network will have the lowest average commercial and promo time in all of television.

Since Turner made the announcement about cutting the amount of commercials on the network, other channels have joined in reducing their ad load on certain network or programming. Turner, for example, says there will also be fewer spot s in its original series on TNT, starting third quarter of 2016 and NBC has cut back the number of commercials in Saturday Night Live.

“Chris and the entire truTV team have delivered on their promise to develop a fresh, comedic environment with passionate, socially-engaged fans,” said Donna Speciale, president of Turner Ad Sales. “As we build on that promise with enhanced storytelling and low clutter, the truTV environment has become an exclusive must-buy for advertisers.”  

Here is truTV’s new programming and shows in development, as described by the network.

New truTV Series & Specials:

Greatest Ever – New series premiering Tuesday, July 5Hosted by comedian Amanda Seales, Greatest Ever is a fast-paced, informative and fun pop-culture comedy countdown show that takes viewers through the “do’s” and “don’ts” of topics like weddings, animal videos, sports, politicians and awesomely, unintentionally funny inventions, infomercials and products. truTV has ordered six half-hour episodes of Greatest Ever, which is produced by Meetinghouse Productions.

Impractical Jokers Live Event Special (wt) – Two-hour live special debuting Fall 2016

Following in the high-wire footsteps of last year’s Impractical Jokers 100th Episode Live Punishment Special – a resounding success with more than 3.7 million viewers and 86 million combined social impressions – the series will once again embark on a massive live event special this fall. The stakes will be even higher this year – an impressive feat considering last year Joe, Murr, Q and Sal tested their balance and fear of heights with a high-wire walk from New York City’s South Street Seaport. The two-hour special will be produced by NorthSouth Productions.

Jon Glaser Loves Gear – New series premiering Fall 2016In this new hybrid comedy series, actor and comedian Jon Glaser (Trainwreck, Parks and Recreation, Girls) endeavors to make a docu-series about his life revolving around one of his biggest passions… gear.  Ironically, however, it is this ever-growing gear obsession that continually threatens to derail the show. You like gear? You like Jon Glaser? You like the show. You don’t like gear? You don’t like Jon Glaser? Maybe you still like the show. Either way, Jon Glaser will still love gear. truTV has ordered 10 half-hour episodes of Jon Glaser Loves Gear from creator Jon Glaser, with PFFR.

Lifescaping (wt) – New series premiering Summer 2016. Lifescaping is a guide to all those real-life skills you’re expected to know but no one ever taught you – things like how to get a bartender’s attention, the best ways to go on a road trip and determining when lying is the right thing to do. Hosts Matthew Latkiewicz and Abbi Crutchfield mix sketches, expert advice and on-the-street interviews to help viewers get their life game on point. truTV has ordered 13 half-hour episodes of Lifescaping, which is produced by Redtail Media.

The Problem with Apu (wt) – 90-minute special premiering Fall 2016. Comedian Hari Kondabolu, the creator and star of this feature-length documentary, confronts his long standing “nemesis” Apu Nahasapeemapetilon – better known as the Indian convenience store owner on The Simpsons. Through this comedic cultural exposé, Kondabolu questions how this controversial caricature was created, burrowed its way into the hearts and minds of Americans and continues to exist – intact – twenty-six years later. The Problem with Apu is produced by Marobru, Inc. and Avalon Television.

New truTV Pilots & Projects in Development:

I’m Sorry (wt) – Produced by The Lonely Island through their production company Kablamo! and Gloria Sanchez Productions

I’m Sorry is a scripted comedy written by and starring actor and comedian Andrea Savage about a seemingly confident, together comedy writer, wife and mom, who is forced to expose her inner immaturity and neuroses as life hands her situations no one could have prepared her for.

Small Victories (wt) – Executive Produced by Melissa Hunter and Debbie Liebling

Written by and starring Melissa Hunter, Small Victories is a scripted comedy centering around Margot, a young upstart lawyer, who after a minor nervous breakdown in court, finds herself disbarred, living at home with her parents, working as a barista and going to a book club with her three remaining friends. As she navigates her new reality, she becomes keenly aware of life’s daily injustices and forms an amateur vigilante squad to take on everyday jackasses while simultaneously trying to get her life back on track.

Untitled Hari Kondabolu Pilot (wt) – Produced by Marobru, Inc. and Avalon Television

Comedian Hari Kondabolu uses his incisive and critical brand of comedy to skewer all things politics and pop culture in this weekly, satirical series. From Columbus Day to the death of high school reunions to the United States’ soon-to-be white minority, Kondabolu isn’t afraid to go there, and uses a variety of interview, sketch and displays of public activism to deliver hilarious and oftentimes biting social commentary.

Untitled Kevin Pereira Project (wt) – Produced by Super Creative Media

Host Kevin Pereira has a searing passion for games, gadgets and exploring every questionable corner of the internet. This new series will let viewers experience how amazing the future will be before it arrives, while celebrating the absurdity of everything that has led to right now.

Untitled Olivia Lee Project (wt) – Produced by Red Hour Films along with Asylum Entertainment

UK comedian Olivia Lee takes on a wide range of hilarious and larger than life characters in this half-hour hidden camera meets sketch series. Known for her brazen and funny stunts in real-life situations, she's now taking America by storm and hooking unsuspecting people along the way. 

Untitled Comedic News Show (wt) – In development; Produced by Omelette Bar Productions along with True Entertainment

Comedian Jena Friedman and an ensemble cast of comedic performers will use this half-hour series to celebrate, send up, satirize and sift through politics, pop culture and all things new media. 

Returning truTV Series and Premiere Dates:

Adam Ruins Everything – New episodes return Tuesday, August 23

Comedian Adam Conover continues his comically inventive yet unrelentingly serious quest to reveal the hidden truths behind everything you know and love. In this 14-episode backorder of the series’ first season, he takes on topics ranging from football and weddings to drugs and prison, giving you not just fun facts to know and tell your friends, but information that will make you see the world in a whole new way. If knowledge is power, then Adam Conover will have you laughing all the way to the top. Adam Ruins Everything is produced by Big Breakfast.

Comedy Knockout – Season Two premieres Summer 2016

Hosted by Damien Lemon, Comedy Knockout pits comedians against each other in a series of fast-paced challenges, with the audience having sole discretion to decide who is the funniest person in the room. The whole time, the comedians throw roast-like, rapid-fire jabs at each other to knock their opponents off balance. Comedy Knockout is produced by Embassy Row and will return to truTV this summer with 16 new half-hour episodes.

Fameless – Season Two premieres Summer 2016

Fameless is a genre-busting half-prank, half-sketch show from the mischievous mind of David Spade. truTV has placed an order for a second season comprised of 12 half-hour episodes, which will premiere this summer and is produced by Electus and Entertainment One (eOne).

Hack My Life – Season Three premieres Fall 2016

In Hack My Life, hosts Kevin Pereira and Brooke Van Poppelen demonstrate step-by-step how to incorporate eye-popping shortcuts and cheats guaranteed to save today's busy adults a lot of time, effort and money. Produced by True Entertainment, the series has been ordered for a third season, with 12 half-hour episodes set to debut this fall.

Impractical Jokers – Season Five mid-season premiere, launch of Inside Jokes Thursday, July 14

The fifth season of this truTV hit returns with a very special hour-long episode, Impractical Jokers: British Invasion, in which lifelong friends Joe, Q, Sal and Murr cross the pond and double-cross each other. The guys serve up pints of awkwardness and stick out like sore thumbs, and their hilarious excursion culminates in an unforgettable punishment in front of thousands of cheering fans.

Following the mid-season premiere on July 14 will be Impractical Jokers: Inside Jokes which packs classic, fan-favorite episodes of the show with sharable pop-up facts throughout. With behind-the-scenes stories and surprising factoids directly from the Jokers, this alternate version of existing content will give viewers a unique and unprecedented look behind the curtain. truTV will air 12 half-hour episodes, which, along with the flagship series, are produced by NorthSouth Productions.

Rachel Dratch’s Late Night Snack – 12 new half-hour episodes premiere Fall 2016

truTV’s weekly showcase of never-before-seen short form comedy content, Rachel Dratch’s Late Night Snack features a rotating lineup of original offerings from some of the biggest and best comedic creators in a variety of styles including character-driven shorts, animation, music videos and more. The series, which is presented by Dratch, will return with an additional 12 half-hour episodes debuting this fall.

Those Who Can’t – Season Two premieres Fall 2016

This fall, truTV’s first scripted series Those Who Can’t returns for a second season that is more unhinged and hilarious than the last. Denver-based comedy troupe The Grawlix (Adam Cayton-Holland, Andrew Orvedahl and Ben Roy) return as three trouble-making teachers who, joined by librarian Maria Thayer, are more inept than the kids they teach and are out to beat the system as they struggle to survive each day on their own terms. Produced by Thank You, Brain! Productions with showrunner Dean Lorey, Those Who Can’t will return for its second season in fall of 2016.

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