TBS not stationary

Makeover aims to appeal to younger demos

The Superstation’s about to get a super-makeover.

Turner entertainment topper Mark Lazarus pledged Thursday that general entertainment cabler TBS will be “rebranded, repositioned and off and running” by next year’s upfront advertising season in May.

Lazarus made the assertion during Turner’s portion of the Television Critics Assn. press tour.

Coming off its successful off-net sitcom comedy block, TBS is leaning toward programming for younger demos than sister net TNT, Lazarus said. Cabler is still looking to more clearly define its brand and identify its target aud.

Now four months into his new role as entertainment prexy, Lazarus told Daily Variety he plans to focus on finding one to four “light variety or reality” series to anchor the basic cable net’s original programming.

“We’re not looking for a whole lot of shows, just a few signature ones to build on,” he said. “We’re not going to run out and do dozens of development deals.”

Scripted series and longform dramas, he added, will continue to be the domain of TNT, which shares with TBS an original programming budget of $350 million.

Meanwhile, at its session, HBO announced its upcoming Western drama “Deadwood” would bow sometime after the next season of “The Sopranos” in 2004.

Season five of “Sopranos” is expected to start in March, chairman-CEO Chris Albrecht said. “I can’t confirm it, but if you had to place a lot of bets, I’d put my money there,” he said.

Twelve-seg first season of “Deadwood” is skedded to begin production in the coming months. Created and exec-produced by David Milch (“NYPD Blue”), skein stars Timothy Olyphant and Ian McShane.

During HBO’s session, Albrecht also said the cabler is close to sealing a syndication deal for “Sex and the City,” though details were not disclosed.

A syndie run would mean trims to the half-hour skein in order to fit into the standard 22-minute off-net window.

Rumored plans are to drop one character’s storyline per episode. As reported, ABC, NBC and Fox have all passed on picking up the series (Daily Variety, Feb. 10).

Meanwhile, Anthony Daniels, who voiced “Star Wars” android C-3PO in the movies, will lend his vocal talents to the same character in Cartoon Network’s “Star Wars: Clone Wars.”

Previously announced series of 20 interstitials, based on the battles in “Star Wars” mythology, will roll out this fall. Genndy Tartakovsky and the creative team behind “Samurai Jack” will produce the series, with the blessing of Lucasfilm.

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