TCM original series seek younger auds

Cabler greenlights two movie industry-related pilots

Turner Classic Movies is close to greenlighting its first original series ever, commissioning movie industry-related pilots “Take Two” and “Idols.”

Both are working titles.

The premise of “Take Two” is that a young actor dissects a great movie of the past — in the pilot, Wilmer Valderrama takes on “The Lost Weekend” — choosing actors and filmmakers to re-enact a classic scene from the movie. The supplier is World of Wonders, with Fenton Bailey & Randy Barbato as exec producers.

“Idols” pairs a younger actor with a veteran star he admires for discussions in casual settings, steering clear of the stilted Q&A of two facing chairs in a bare-bones studio. TCM hasn’t announced any pairings yet, although talks are ongoing with a half-dozen actors. The exec producer is Robert Trachtenberg.

The network has also signed moviemaker-rocker Rob Zombie to host “TCM Underground,” a weekly cult-movie series featuring such cinema oddities as George Romero’s “The Crazies,” Ed Wood’s “Bride of the Monster,” Francis Ford Coppola’s “Dementia 13” and Leonard Castle’s “The Honeymoon Killers.”

“We want to broaden our audience and get more people in their 30s and 40s to watch,” said Tom Karsch, executive VP/general manager of TCM.

Because TCM fills so much of its schedule with golden oldies, the average age of its audience is greater than almost any other network, broadcast or cable. TCM can finesse that disadvantage because it’s one of the few networks that doesn’t accept advertising, but Karsch said, “We’d like to draw more viewers in the 35-to-54 range, which is the TCM sweet spot.”

TCM’s next original documentary, “Edge of Outside,” is unique, said Karsch, in that it’s the first produced completely inhouse instead of being commissioned from outside suppliers.

The hourlong “Outside” will explore independent filmmakers “who bucked the Hollywood system even though they came out of that system,” according to Karsch. Sam Fuller, John Cassavetes, Arthur Penn and Sam Peckinpah are among the old-school directors who’ll turn up through archival footage. More contemporary filmmakers include Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee and John Sayles.

The exec producer of “Outside” is Chris Merrifield and the producer is Shannon Davis.

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