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TBS/TNT/TruTV’s Brett Weitz on Defining Networks’ Brands After ‘Snowpiercer’ Dislocation

After bouncing its gritty drama “Snowpiercer” from TNT to TBS and back to TNT again, the networks formerly known as Turner experienced a bit of a brand identity crisis last year.

But as its execs prepare to launch the streaming service HBO Max, they’re also re-establishing unique brand markers for basic cable flagships TNT, TBS and TruTV.

Brett Weitz, who was promoted to general manager of the three networks in October, detailed each network’s distinctiveness to reporters on Wednesday at the Television Critics Association press tour. TNT will focus on “big, lean-forward thrilling television,” like live sports, its movie package and big-budget dramas. TBS will continue to be comedy-focused, including hour-long shows. And TruTV will mix unscripted with edgy comedy series.

As HBO Max launches, Weitz said WarnerMedia is still fully invested in the three networks, which he said are still in 96 million homes. “We evolve them, we grow them and we retain a huge equity for these three complementary brands,” he said.

Weitz told Variety that he gave the brands another look after gaining oversight among all three — and, for starters, determined that “Snowpiercer” should have stayed put at TNT.

That’s where “Snowpiercer” was originally supposed to premiere; but at the WarnerMedia upfront presentation in May , the company moved “Snowpiercer” to TBS in order to take advantage of that show’s younger audience.

“I think when we look at what the assets of TBS are in 2020 and thinking about post-NCAA [March Madness], and knowing how great of an adventure ‘Snowpiercer’ will be, it makes more sense to have that show there,” Weitz said in May. “You’ll see as we start to evolve the development in the next six months how these shows start to pan out and what the networks look like.”

“Snowpiercer” on TBS seemed a bit jarring; a gritty, violent drama on a channel known mostly for laughs. And after taking another look at the TNT/TBS/TruTV landscape in the fall, Weitz agreed.

“Now I have the ability to look over these three networks and do real analysis, we looked at this long and hard and realized that we had time [to change it],” he said. “Did it make sense for TBS? Sure, it made sense in a way where we have young males and it’s a great robust audience. But really, it is an incredibly thrilling ride that belongs on TNT. It’s the epitome of what the TNT brand is … so we put it back on TNT, where it belongs.”

Among shows that serve as a brand example for each channel, Weitz mentions “Claws,” “Animal Kingdom” and AEW wrestling on TNT, “The Last O.G.,” “Misery Index,” “Conan” and “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” on TBS, and “Impractical Jokers” and “Tacoma F.D.” on TruTV.

As part of the three-network consolidation in the fall, Thom Hinkle was named head of original content for the trio. Weitz also points to an unscripted initiative, as the company looks to add more reality shows to all three networks under former Fox and ABC exec Corie Henson.

“We see it as a huge opportunity to increase our offering in unscripted among all three networks,” he said. “Corie Henson has an incredible reputation for bringing top-tier talent and huge shows like ‘The Masked Singer’ and ‘MasterChef.’ With that expertise in house, we intend to create unscripted series that really capture the distinct spirit of each of the brands.”

New series announced on Wednesday included the unscripted TruTV comedies “Tirdy Works,” about a Maine business that specializes in arts and crafts created out of moose poop; and “It’s Personal With Amy Hoggart,” from executive producer Samantha Bee and starring an “over-confident Brit who seeks to make Americans feel better.” And at TBS there’s “Lost Resort,” an unscripted look at exotic wellness retreats.

Among other news, Weitz confirmed that a late-night talk show being developed as a vehicle for “Claws” star Niecy Nash isn’t moving forward, but that TNT is still considering a second season of the live reality show “Chasing the Cure,” hosted by Ann Curry.

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