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Steven Koonin

Turner president gives TBS a comedic kick-start

The Turner Entertainment Networks prexy’s rebranding of TBS as a comedy leader — a strategy he unveiled back in 2004 with the “Very Funny” campaign — is now complete.

The cabler continued this year to reinforce its foundation of off-net comedy properties with the acquisitions of “The Office” and “My Name Is Earl.”

TBS has also gotten big into original sitcoms. Premiering in June, “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” spent the summer as television’s No. 1 program among African-American adults 18-49 and continues to set records in its delivery of key demos. Other original successes include “The Bill Engvall Show” and “My Boys.” This month, TBS ramps up its latenight slate with an eponymous sketch series from Frank Caliendo (“MADtv”) and new episodes of the loosely scripted “10 Items or Less.”

Point of view

“There was a letter to the editor in the Atlanta paper about two years ago that said, ‘TBS has become my Prozac,’ “Koonin recalls. “We want to be that mood elevator, that release.” On his approach to sitcoms: “We’re creating some (new) family comedies that work very well, because they’re relatable — not wacky.”

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