Turner and Ben Silverman Banking on 'Big Bang' Crowd for 'King of Nerds'

The exec producer, launching new reality competitions on TBS and TNT, tells the TCA crowd his latest subjects are among TV's biggest consumers.
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Turner Broadcasting trotted out four new unscripted series at the Television Critics Association press tour Friday, a big investment for the previously scripted-centric TNT and TBS.

The most discussed series on the reality roster was the lone offering from TBS. King of the Nerds, hosted and executive produced by Revenge of the Nerds stars Curtis Armstrong and Robert Carradine, pits 11 contestants against one another in a game of smarts and fandom to win $100,000 and the series' enviable title.

King of the Nerds' creative team was quick to justify TBS' competition foray, noting the similarly themed lead-in. Nerds' Jan. 17 premiere follows back-to-back episodes of one of the biggest ratings success in all of syndicated TV.

Exec producer Ben Silverman said The Big Bang Theory was a big influence in their decision to bring the series to the network, in addition to other recent moments in the nerd zeitgeist such as Comic-Con and The Social Network.

"They're watching more content than ever," said Silverman, also onstage to plug TNT's The Hero. "It's how they're consuming it that's the question. I think it's just about where the show is and 'Do I identify with it?' "

Silverman, noting that he's "more bullish than ever" in the business, also got in an obligatory huzzah for cable before the end of the panel.

"What I think is really hard for network television is doing original 24-7 all year round," said the former NBC Entertainment co-chair, slightly undercutting Turner's current push for yearlong original programming.