Never mind that ABC hasn't yet given returning comedy "Cougar Town" a launch date this season. Executive producer Bill Lawrence has already begun a promotional campaign that is hoping to get a grass-roots buzz going for the series both online and off.
Lawrence took to Twitter on Monday to announce plans to help the ratings for "Cougar Town," which is heading into a third season that's already seen its episode order cut down.
Lawrence and fellow producer Kevin Biegel are orchestrating a series of screenings of new episodes around the country that will begin Dec. 27 in Atlanta, Louisville, Ken. and Sarasota, Fla. There will be at least one regular cast member and writer at every venue, and prizes will also be handed out. More screenings will be announced in other cities in January. (For info on how to get invited, check Lawrence's Twitter feed).
In case you didn't figure out that Lawrence is planning this himself, he cleared the air via Twitter: "No, these are not ABC events. They're 'Bill and Kevin are idiots' events."
In addition, Lawrence is loading up his fan page on Facebook with video content, where he apparently hopes to also mine his own TV history as creator of "Scrubs," "Clone High" and "Spin City" to cross-pollinate those fan bases to his current show. He's also posted an introductory video of himself walking through his future plans.
Think of all this as pragmatist's promotional strategy: Lawrence knows a series that gets tacked onto the network's schedule late in the season isn't likely to get much marketing support. And even if it did, every little bit helps. If Lawrence does it right, watch every showrunner worth their salt try something similar to improve their odds in the always dicey business of primetime TV.