TBS addresses crix, sans Turner

While most of the industry was shut down by Monday’s massive earthquake, Turner Broadcasting went ahead Tuesday with its skedded half-day of promo material for the nation’s TV critics, but the show went on without man of the hour Ted Turner.

Turner had been set to address the crix but left town Monday on his private jet with wife Jane Fonda soon after the earthquake hit.

“Ted and Jane utilized the option that we all would have yesterday if we had the means,” said Turner spokesman Jim Weiss. “He left early afternoon. I certainly didn’t think the worst was over. If I could have gotten out of here, I would have too.”

Meanwhile, a ritzy bash planned by Turner for the crix Tuesday night was still on the agenda, but considerably scaled down. A Turner spokesman said that the money saved by cutting back the party would be donated to the Red Cross Relief Fund for earthquake victims.

Turner Broadcasting nonetheless went ahead with its day program, which included panel segments from TNT, CNN, TBS, the Cartoon Network and the newest addition to the Turner family, Turner Classic Movies.

Weiss said the cabler and the sponsors of the annual crix tour,the TV Critics Assn. and the National Cable TV Assn., decided that as long as the 40-50 scribes from newspapers around the country were house-bound at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Pasadena, they might as well go ahead with the forum.

Meanwhile, USA and CNBC went ahead with presentations in the morning, but MTV and Bravo pulled out.

“After the dust settled, we needed to do a reality check,” Weiss said. “The feeling on the TCA side was that everybody was here. Nobody can go anywhere. It seems like there’s no danger in getting together. In fact, it seems like it’s healthy for everyone to get together.”

The cabler announced several new programs that will land in the Turner fold — including cable rights to 140 episodes of “In the Heat of the Night” for TNT; the move from monthly to weekly frequency of “CNN Presents”; and the Cartoon Network debut of “Space Ghost: Coast to Coast,” the world’s first latenight talkshow hosted by a cartoon superhero.

TBS Superstation also announced two six-hour multipart series: “Pirates,” about the 200-year history of cutthroat pirating on the high seas, and “The Roots of Country,” which will cover the history of country music.

CNN spent its panel hour discussing its own earthquake coverage handled by anchors Bernard Shaw and Frank Sesno. Both Atlanta-based TV anchors were here to address the crix tour, but jumped into duty as L.A. correspondents in the local bureau.

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