A show can be family-friendly — but it better be good first.
That was the general consensus of TV’s entertainment presidents, who spoke Tuesday at the Four Seasons as part of the advertiser-run Family Friendly Programming Forum’s annual symposium.
“There are a lot of shows that are family friendly,” said UPN Entertainment prexy Dawn Ostroff, whose family oriented laffer “Everybody Hates Chris” is one of the fall’s most anticipated new shows.
“The question is, how good is the show to make it successful? The tastes of the country have changed,” she said.
Both ABC Entertainment prexy Steve McPherson and NBC entertainment topper Kevin Reilly noted that the Alphabet web’s recent attempt to resurrect the “TGIF” brand failed, both because the shows weren’t up to snuff and because they didn’t appeal to both parents and kids.
Fox Entertainment prexy Peter Liguori said he’s aggressively making an appeal for broad, family oriented shows to pair up with megahit “American Idol.”
Liguori also noted that family based sitcoms had started mining “tired turf.”
“What is the next step (for the genre)?” he asked. “Part of what’s inspiring all the buzz about ‘Chris’ is its level of authenticity.”
The execs (who also included WB’s David Janollari) also said they haven’t felt a lingering chilling effect from the infamous Janet Jackson/Super Bowl slip, and that they’ve begun to fight back against cultural critics.
“As companies we’ve started to hold the line,” Reilly said. “And some of these ridiculous sanctions have been turned around by the courts.”
In an earlier session, “Everwood” creator Greg Berlanti said he appreciated the “family friendly” stamp from the advertiser group, given the Parents Television Council’s criticism of the show.
“We’ve been named the worst show on TV two years in a row by the PTC,” Berlanti said. “When you recognize shows like ‘Everwood’ it gives us a stamp of approval, legitimacy.”
Berlanti said the decision to tackle controversial subjects on “Everwood” is necessary to maintain the show’s relevance with younger viewers.
“We’re not doing it for shock value,” he said. “We’re doing it so that parents and kids can have real conversations.”