Tyler Perry Talks About His Viacom Deal, Keeping Up Production Pace

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Tyler Perry

At Cannes Lions, the mogul also talked Trump in conversation with MediaLink's Michael Kassan.

When you get two of the biggest personalities of Cannes Lions in the room to talk about the future of media, perhaps it was inevitable that talked turned to an even bigger personality.

Tyler Perry — one of the few big stars onstage this week — and MediaLink mogul Michael Kassan couldn't help but talk about Trump and his impact on the ad and entertainment businesses. “Donald Trump is the greatest marketer in the world, full stop. I hate the message that he is marketing but he did exactly what we are talking about in the industry; he went over the top, he went directly to the consumer and he gave them a skinny bundle,” said Kassan. “We were talking about cable — what he did was find the channels those people care about and he delivered it to them directly: security, jobs, bam, bam, bam.”

“Make sure he’s quoted on that,” joked Perry. Still, the actor-screenwriter-director agreed: “But you’re absolutely right. In all the chaos and all the madness, I started to take a step back from it and realize the brilliance in what is going on. As destructive and as terrible as it may be, as horrible as it may be, the actual design of it is brilliant.”

But back to the business at hand, which is Perry’s deal with Viacom that starts in 2019. He will be starting with BET and the first show planned out of the gate will be a longform drama.

Though younger viewers are fleeing linear, Perry’s more traditional fans are still watching TV. “Everybody’s choosing their own corners. Eventually there will be a long-term problem with linear, but we’re not there yet especially with my audience,” he said, citing internal research. “We still have some time to make a huge impact.”

Perry has been turning out 90 episodes of television on a break-neck six-to-eight-week shooting schedule under his current deal with OWN, and intends to maintain that pace when he moves to Viacom. "It’s a wonderful pace for us, because we know how to do it," he said. He also will keep that pace churning out films, having just shot a new undisclosed one (which is not Paramount’s upcoming Nobody’s Fool starring Tiffany Haddish) on an extremely accelerated schedule.

Under the OWN deal, Perry found himself "sitting around going, ‘OK, I’ve got to figure out something else to do.'" Viacom has more outlets he can create content for, and he also is planning shortform and an OTT channel to connect directly with consumers that are all-in on Brand Perry.

He was way ahead of the curve on creating his own personal brand, setting himself up as someone viewers want to invite over. Perry said Kevin Hart is following in his footsteps, "working extremely hard at building that same kind of cultural connection."

Perry has also been immensely successful at creating his own IP, and said he has reached out to young black Hollywood. "Here’s what I’ve found, you have to find people who are interested in it," he said. "And I get it. Not everybody wants to build a table. Some people just want a seat at the table and to eat whatever meal is served. I’m not that kind of person — others may want that."

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