NEW YORK — Fed up with the paucity of family-themed skeins on network television, a consortium of major advertisers is establishing a pilot script development fund to fuel the production of all-ages programming for the WB Network.
Deal does not guarantee any programs will make it onto the Frog net’s sked, but it does increase the odds that such programs will at least be produced as pilots. WB’s main commitment will be to identify writers best-suited for family-themed projects and then develop those scripts through the net’s usual suppliers.
“This is a serious initiative to encourage the entertainment industry to provide more great family-friendly TV programs at times that parents and children can view together,” said Robert Wehling, head of global marketing for Procter & Gamble, one of the 11 advertisers funding the initiative through the Family Friendly Programming Forum.
“The members of the forum are committed to putting our money where are mouths are,” Wehling said.
While the WB has generated press attention for adult and teen-targeted shows such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Dawson’s Creek,” the web has actually had its biggest ratings success with the Aaron Spelling-produced family-friendly hit “7th Heaven.” But the Frog has had trouble finding a companion for “Heaven,” though execs at the net hope the new family-themed “Safe Harbor” will provide a suitable lead-out.
“The type of contemporary, youth-oriented and family-friendly programming that forum members desire is consistent with our targeted strategy,” said the WB CEO Jamie Kellner. “We are hopeful this effort will yield programs our partners will be proud to sponsor and support.”
In addition to P&G, some of the advertisers contributing to the pilot script fund include AT&T, General Motors, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Sears and Wendy’s.