TBS expands comedy festival work


TBS on Wednesday confirmed its position as Time Warner's new comedy festival specialist amid HBO's recent moves away from the festival circuit.

TBS unveiled a new Chicago festival in cooperation with Montreal's Just For Laughs next year and also said it will put on the fourth annual The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas this November, with live event and touring expert AEG Live once again serving as the partner.

TCF was previously organized by AEG together with HBO, with TBS only serving as title sponsor, but the Turner network has now taken over the lead.

As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, HBO has faded out its early-in-the-year Aspen festival and has been expected to end its comedy festival work altogether to focus on its core business. This seemed to be the case Wednesday as organizers confirmed that HBO won't have any TCF involvement anymore this fall. HBO wasn't immediately available for comment.

Meanwhile, "Just For Laughs: A Very Funny Festival" will take over Chicago for five days during the summer of 2009 under a deal brokered by CAA, which represents JFL, the producer of the annual July comedy extravaganza in Montreal that carries the same name. The move creates a new flagship U.S. event for JFL, which celebrated its 25th annual festival this past summer.

Ellen DeGeneres is on board for both festivals.

"After three successful years of serving as the presenting sponsor of The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas, we're ready to dive into the festival arena full force," said Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks. "These events are a perfect opportunity for TBS to showcase some of the best talents in the comedy industry and to expand the reach of our brand in exciting new ways."

The Chicago festival will become JFL's "flagship comedy event in the U.S.," said JFL president Gilbert Rozon.

Besides a TBS special hosted by DeGeneres, it will feature a series of stand-up concerts by top-name comedians, improv and sketch shows, including a collaboration with the famed Second City comedy troupe in the Windy City, Latino and urban comedy specials, as well as a film component.

TCF traditionally brings together the biggest names in comedy and up-and-coming talent. TBS presented three prime-time specials from last year's edition, including "Ellen's Really Big Show," "Blue Collar Comedy: The Next Generation" and "Frank Caliendo: All Over the Place."