Nets get friendly about family during TV forum

TV forum has nets friendly

Given the evolving nature of the American household, family-friendly programming nowadays can mean anything from “Two and a Half Men” to Donald Trump, network executives said at a panel Tuesday.

CBS prexy Nancy Tellem held up “Joan of Arcadia” as well as “Everybody Loves Raymond.” ABC topper Stephen McPherson mentioned “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” which has dominated the 18-49 demos for the past five weeks. WB chief David Janollari lofted “Gilmore Girls,” now entering its fifth season.

Family dynamics

While NBC president Kevin Reilly acknowledged his net’s long tradition of broad-based hits, from “The Cosby Show” to “Family Ties,” as well as the current “American Dreams,” he said that the Peacock has historically skewed older and edgier, a la “ER.”

The former FX chief added that family-friendly shows should not necessarily be construed as shows about families.

“Sometimes we get a very narrow definition when we say family friendly, (for example), if it has to be family friendly, therefore it has to be sterile. And that’s probably the biggest killer of this effort,” he said. “Let’s start by making it safe. Well, it’s very hard to get people excited about ‘safe.'”

He pointed to “The Apprentice” as an inadvertently family-friendly series, and an example of the maturation of the reality genre.

“You’re starting to see an empathetic quality get(ting) into these shows, and an aspirational quality.”

Ask the kids

McPherson said that while family dynamics had changed, targeting younger auds was more important than ever.

“It’s amazing to me how many times I will hear from a friend of mine that he got into a show because of his kids,” McPherson said. “It’s amazing how that actually is the generator of an audience, not some guy who’s married, working all day and watching a show on his own. It becomes a viewing experience.”

Panel was held by the Family Friendly Programming Forum, an org of 48 national advertisers whose script-development fund brought about “Gilmore Girls,” “American Dreams” and ABC’s “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.”

Television Week publisher and editorial director Chuck Ross moderated the half-hour sesh during the Forum’s symposium at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.

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