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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

TBS boards crazy train to Cougar Town and Ving Rhames drops a bomb on Tyler Perry

It's not the first time one of the Turner networks rescued a network series from the scrap heap - TNT picked up "Southland" when NBC dumped it.

It's not even the first time a Bill Lawrence created series jumped networks - "Scrubs" leapt from NBC to ABC for its eighth and ninth seasons.

But this is the first time one of the Turner networks rescued a Bill Lawrence-created network series from certain doom.

The program, which series creator Bill Lawrence admits is woefully mistitled, faces a few serious challenges on very funny TBS, which must:

1) ...let series fans know the show has crossed over to basic cable.

2) ...educate viewers about the show's premise - group of wine-swilling, penny-can playing, middle-aged, chatty-Cathy (ahem) friends hang out and say clever things.

3) ...make sure everyone knows that the show has nothing to do with cougars.

To that end, TBS has been applying the full court press with a series of television spots, magazine ads, articles, and viral videos:

Here is a spot that looks like it was crafted by the "Conan" folks:

And then there's this primer:

And these New Year's resolutions:

The show's creators and cast both expressed excitement about the move to TBS at a recent panel at the Television Critics Association's Winter Press tour:

Executive producer Bill Lawrence said when asked about the shift to TBS, noting that the show would in its fourth season (premiering January 8) be pretty much the same, with "a little nudity." Co-star Busy Philipps echoed the claim that they were now able to do "a little bit edgier stuff." New show-runner Ric Swartzlander, taking over for Lawrence this season, added that TBS had told him when hiring him that "we don't want to see your fingerprints on this at all." Everyone on the panel expressed their pleasure at seeing their show actually being promoted on air.

One interested side note: at the panel, which "Cougar Town" shared with TNT's "Monday Mornings," one of that program's stars showed that he knows drama:

Ving Rhames, who plays Jorge Villanueva, got the last word when he slipped in at the end of the event that he was grateful TNT was "doing something on a level a bit above some of the Tyler Perry shows," which air on TBS. Snap.

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