ABC’s ‘Raisin’ gets feature treatment

Network to screen telepic for tastemakers

ABC and Sony are taking an unusual approach to tubthumping the upcoming Zadan/Meron production of “A Raisin in the Sun.”

Rather than simply send out DVD screeners of the pic, network and studio have set up a series of “Raisin” screenings in New York and Los Angeles. Journalists, tastemakers, politicians and community leaders will be invited to the showings of the pic, which boasts a star-studded cast headed by Sean “Diddy” Combs and Phylicia Rashad (Daily Variety, May 23, 2006).

Move by ABC longform chief Quinn Taylor and Sony telepic topper Helen Verno fits with the feature feel of the overall “Raisin” marketing campaign. The Alphabet, for example, announced a post-Oscar airdate (Feb. 25) for the project all the way back in August. It’s rare for a net to plant its flag in the sand so early with a telepic.

Exec producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (“Hairspray”) said that having the movie in the can well ahead of its airdate has made all the difference.

“We usually have TV movies ready a few weeks before the air, and even then, they’re sometimes still rough cuts,” Zadan told Daily Variety. “Here, we have the opportunity to do things months in advance.”

Meron said the screenings “proclaim the event-like nature of the movie.”

“Presenting it to the press this way helps it stand out from the pack,” he said. “It’s a throwback to the golden age, when TV movies were a more accepted genre.”

PR teams for both ABC and Sony have been working closely on the project, with invitations to the screenings expected to go out this week and next. Film will be shown at ABC’s L.A. and Gotham HQs, with screenings in D.C. and Chicago a possibility.

TV critics who’d rather not schlep to a screening needn’t worry, however. ABC is still planning to send out DVDs of “Raisin” well ahead of its broadcast.