At TV Land it’s goodbye Betty White, hello Hillary Duff when it comes to original comedy series.
TV Land prexy Larry Jones promised reporters at the Television Critics Assn. press tour Saturday that the cabler will unveil “a whole new TV Land” this year.
“There’ll be a big reinvention for us between now and next year’s TCA with a new slate of compelling comedies that all have a completely different feel than anything you’ve ever seen on TV Land before,” Jones said.
Jones promised that the new slate of single-camera shows will be “a little less traditional and a little more edgy.” The new fleet launches March 31 with “Younger,” starring Sutton Foster as a woman who masquerades as a twentysomething after she falls for a younger man. Duff and Debi Mazar and Miriam Shor also star in the series from “Sex and the City” and “Melrose Place” creator Darren Star.
TV Land’s move is a response to the fact that the channel’s fortysomething target audience is now closer to the Gen-X generation than the baby boomer crowd. Those viewers are looking for a new breed of comedies, Jones said.
He noted that the makeover was initiated after they realized that boomers had aged out of TV Land’s target demo and that Gen-X viewers had different expectations. And they were also inspired by the boom in edgy and intense cable dramas.
“In the last three years there have been so many (dramas) that everybody is talking about. We thought about how to apply the basic ideas that you see in great dramas to comedies to make them a little more compelling,” Jones said. “We want to push the humor level further and be sure to make them funny.”
Three other shows on deck for 2015 are “Impastor,” about a man who takes on the identity of a dead man who happens to be a gay minister; “Teachers,” a look at the lives of elementary school teachers; and “The Jim Gaffigan Show,” starring the veteran comic in a “Louie”-esque autobiographical vehicle.
The push marks an increase in investment in original shows. In the 2013-14 frame TV Land produced 72 original scripted half-hour episodes in total; in 2014-15 the tally will rise to 92. There’s also plans for an on-air brand makeover to help signal the stylistic change, Jones said.
Although the new entrants are all single-cam series, Jones said the cabler is not ruling out new multicams that have the new tonal approach.
“I really believe there is a way to make a really compelling multicamera show,” he said. TV Land is still committed to its existing multicam series “The Soul Man” and “The Exes.”
“Hot in Cleveland,” the ensembler anchored by White that paved the way for TV Land’s entry into original series, will wrap up in June. Jones promises to give the show a worthy send-off.
“The plan is to package the last six episodes and amp up the (finale) in a big way,” he said.