7:15am PT by Lesley Goldberg
TNT Adds Cary Fukunaga's 'Alienist' Series, 'Animal Kingdom'; TBS Orders Greg Daniels-Conan O'Brien Comedy
Six months into his new position at Turner, Kevin Reilly has big plans for TNT and TBS.
Ahead of his first upfront presentation as Turner's chief content officer and head of both networks, Reilly announced plans to rebrand comedy-focused TBS and a shift in focus at drama-themed TNT, in addition to doubling the number of originals at both cablers. The new directions included a limited series order to Cary Fukunaga's The Alienist and two buzzy pilots at TNT, as well as TBS' series pickup to Wrecked and a pilot order to an alien-themed comedy from Conan O'Brien and Greg Daniels.
"We’re on the move in a big way at TNT and TBS," Reilly said. "We're doing a proactive makeover of these networks. We’ll double the number of our original series on TBS and TNT over the next three years. And we'll sharpen the point of view and be even more adventurous in our programming choices."
To that end, TNT handed out its first new batch of pilots under Reilly and exec vp original programming at TNT Sarah Aubrey as well as the eight-part series pickup of True Detective Emmy winner Fukunaga's The Alienist.
The first pilot is Will, a drama about a young William Shakespeare from Craig Pearce, Baz Lurhmann's longtime writing partner. The wild story of young William Shakespeare's arrival onto the punk rock theater scene that was 16th century London — the seductive, violent world where his raw talent faced rioting audiences, religious fanatics and raucous side-shows. It's the hot, contemporary, dangerous version of Shakespeare's life, played to a modern soundtrack, exposing all his recklessness, lustful temptations and brilliance. Pearce (Romeo + Juliet) penned the pilot and exec produces alongside Vince Gerardis (Game of Thrones), Howard Braunstein (The Client List) and Louise Rosager.
Second is Animal Kingdom, a family crime drama set in a gritty surf community from John Wells and Jonathan Lisco.When 17-year-old Josh moves in with his wild, free-wheeling relatives in their Southern California beach town, he is pulled into their life of indulgence and excess. But after Josh discovers that it's all being funded by criminal activities, it becomes clear to him that joining the family comes with more danger and excitement than he might be ready to handle. The drama hails from Warner Horizon Television and John Wells Productions with Wells (TNT's Southland, ER, The West Wing, Shameless), Lisco (Southland), Andrew Stearn (Southland), David Michod (the Animal Kingdom feature) and Liz Watts (Animal Kingdom) on board to executive produce. Wells will direct the pilot from a script by Lisco. The project is inspired by the feature film produced by Watts and written and directed by Michod, and originally developed for Showtime in 2011.
The Alienist, meanwhile, was first announced in April and reteams Fukunaga and True Detective producers Anonymous Content. The series hails from Paramount TV, with TNT Original Productions boarding as a co-producer. Fukunaga will direct the adapation of Caleb Carr's New York Times best-seller. The drama, which also reunites former Reilly with Paramount Pictures CEO Brad Grey after the former served as president of Brad Grey Television. Academy Award winners Eric Roth (Munich) and Hossein Amini (Drive) will exec produce alongside Fukunaga. Amini will pen the script. The drama is described as a fast-paced and atmospheric psychological thriller set in the gritty world of Gilded Age New York. Following a series of haunting and gruesome murders, psychiatrist Laszlo Kreizler, newspaper reporter John Moore and police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt come together, employing emerging disciplines of psychology and early crime investigation techniques to track down one of New York’s first serial killers. Anonymous' Steve Golin and Rosalie Swedlin also exec produce.
"TNT will continue to deliver great drama and live event specials, but our presentation and portfolio will look dramatically different," Reilly said. "As we expand our portfolio, viewers should expect some very daring shows — some of which will not appeal to all of our current viewers but will be a lightning rod to attract new viewers."
At TBS, meanwhile, the rebranding — complete with a new programming focus and tone — is set to begin by year's end, with Reilly touting a "huge" slate of "awesomely in-your-face and effortlessly diverse live-action comedies, original animation and big unscripted ideas with attitude, late-night talk and, of course, championship sports."
As part of the push, Reilly and Brett Weitz, exec vp original programming at TBS, have ordered its Lost-meets-Gilligan's Island comedy Wrecked to series. The comedy, starring Zach Cregger (Guys With Kids), was developed before the duo arrived at the network. Wrecked will join TBS' slate of new original comedies set to bow in the fourth quarter with Rashida Jones starrer Angie Tribeca, created by Steve and Nancy Carell, and The Detour, the Jason Jones comedy that counts Samantha Bee among its exec producers.
Replenishing TBS' pilot roster, Reilly and Weitz have ordered The Group, about a group of alien abductees, from executive producer Conan O'Brien and The Office's Greg Daniels. The Group centers on a support group for people who think they have been abducted by aliens, which is the subject of a snarky feature piece by skeptical journalist Wyatt Jones. The more he digs into the oddballs' claims, however, the more confused, intrigued and seduced he becomes. The Group is produced by Conaco in association with Warner Horizon Television. O'Brien, Jeff Ross (Conant), David Kissinger (Eagleheart), Dan Halsted (Sunshine State, Any Given Sunday) and director Daniels (The Office, Parks and Recreation) executive produce the pilot, which was written by co-executive producer David Jenkins.
Additionally, TBS has ordered Separation Anxiety, relationship-based game show with a twist. Specific details about the game show were not immediately available.
The move to shake things up at TBS comes as the cable network canceled all of its veteran fare including Ground Floor, Men at Work and Sullivan & Son as it is poised to bow new series Your Family or Mine and Buzzy's, both developed before Reilly's arrival.
At TNT, meanwhile, the cabler has found ratings success with safer fare including Rizzoli & Isles, The Last Ship, Major Crimes, Legends and The Librarians. TNT next has Sharon Stone vehicle Agent X and Jennifer Beals' Proof on tap along with Ed Burns' Public Morals, none of which have Reilly's fingerprints on them.