'Meet the Browns' meets TBS schedule

Tyler Perry will exec produce, direct, write for sitcom

Tyler Perry is spinning off his play and movie "Meet the Browns" into a sitcom, which TBS has picked up for a January debut.

TBS, which already airs Perry's sitcom "House of Payne," has ordered 10 episodes of the show from Debmar-Mercury, which syndicates both series. Perry is serving as executive producer and director and will occasionally write for the series.

"Browns" stars David Mann as Leroy Brown, a character who was in Perry's film this year as well as in several episodes of "Payne." The new sitcom will begin after Brown inherits a dilapidated house from his deceased father. Perry might cameo in one episode as his ubiquitous character Madea, who appeared in "Browns."

The movie, which was released March 21, earned $42 million at the domestic boxoffice. It co-starred Angela Bassett, Rick Fox, Jenifer Lewis, Sofia Vergara and Tamela J. Mann, among others, but only David Mann and Tamela J. Mann, who plays Madea (Perry) and Leroy's daughter Cora, will reprise their roles in the series (the Manns are real-life spouses).

Perry and TBS first joined up in 2006 on "Payne," which now ranks as ad-supported cable's most-watched original sitcom ever. For that show, Debmar-Mercury offered a 10-episode "experiment" in select markets that ultimately led to TBS ordering a whopping 100 episodes of the series. TBS has since ordered 26 additional episodes.

"Tyler Perry is an extraordinary talent who has turned 'House of Payne' into a record-breaking hit," Turner Entertainment Networks president Steve Koonin said. "We're thrilled at having the chance to repeat that success with Leroy Brown, a character already proven to be a big hit with audiences."

The "Browns" deal follows the same model as "Payne," which is set to launch next month in national broadcast syndication. The "Payne" deal is estimated to be worth $200 million-$300 million when including the cash paid by the stations and TBS as well as the barter advertising sales.

TBS is planning to run the first 10 episodes of "Browns" two at a time over five weeks, airing back-to-back installments in an hour block. Should "Browns" do well over its initial run, TBS likely will order a substantial number of additional episodes as it did with "Payne" -- though that order is not expected to total 100 -- and will be able to air the series exclusively for 12-15 months before it launches as a strip in broadcast syndication.

"This is a character that has been in Tyler's arsenal for a very long time," Debmar-Mercury co-president Mort Marcus said. "David Mann as Leroy has been in many of his plays and movies. Once he was ready creatively with the idea, we went to TBS because of our relationship there."

Debmar-Mercury co-president Ira Bernstein, who said the series will pick up where the movie left off, pointed out the untraditional route that Perry has taken to get his original comedies to syndication.

"Tyler has complete creative autonomy, and he has the ability to deliver his vision," Bernstein said.

For his part, Perry said he was happy to be expanding his relationship with TBS.

"It has been so fulfilling artistically, I feel as if I've been adopted into another family," he said. "An artist such as myself cannot imagine being in a partnership with any other network."

The series will be taped in Atlanta at Perry's newly expanded 200,000-square-foot Tyler Perry Studios, where "Payne" is shot.

Perry's sixth film, "The Family That Preys," is set for release in the fall.
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