Turner Broadcasting has taken an equity stake in Funny or Die — the comedy Web site started by TV veterans Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Chris Henchy — in order to mine their talent for Turner’s TBS and Adult Swim.
During its upfront presentation to advertisers on WEdnesday, Turner execs mixed in this news with other new, upcoming series for TNT and TBS. This included David E. Kelley medical drama “Monday Mornings,” Donnie Wahlberg-produced cop reality show “Boston Blue,” and guy-centric comedies “Men at Work” and “The Wedding Band.” Plus, “Deon Cole’s Black Box,” in which “Conan” writer Deon Cole makes fun of TV, and another “Punk’d”-esque series from Ashton Kutcher. And of course, the much-written about, couldn’t-get-any-respect-at-ABC new TBS pick-up, “Cougar Town.”
“We’re investing in Funny Or Die because we can take their great content and give it a wider audience through the incredible reach of TBS,” said Koonin in the announcement. “TBS and Funny Or Die will give people a laugh anywhere, anytime and on any device.”
TNT/TBS programming chief Michael Wright gave a shout out to “Cougar Town,” which will join the network for original episodes in early 2013. “One of the most charming, funny shows on air,” he said.
The cast appeared on stage to say hello. “Everyone at ‘Cougar Town’ is thrilled to be part of the new home at TBS,” show star Courteney Cox assured everyone. “[It] will be the perfect fit.”
Late night star C onan O’Brien, the crown jewel of TBS, appeared again wrapped things up with a brief routine where he made fun of Turner’s upfront location near Penn Station (”I pity CBS, they’re stuck with cocktail hour at Carnegie Hall.”) He also reminisced about the old school era of upfronts, which boasted ice sculptures and caviar, as opposed to current times, when networks just send interns to Dunkin’ Donuts to steal day-old Munchkins.
After bragging about his show’s social media reach (“5.5 million on Twitter, 1.84 million on Facebook, one pedophile on MySpace”), he walked the audience through a slideshow of postings he “found” on Craigslist from Turner execs and celebrities.
One was an intriguing offer from Oprah Winfrey and her struggling network: “For sale: Controlling interest in OWN. $10 or best offer.”
“I don’t fear her anymore!” Conan cackled.
Execs also showed clips from TNT dramas including “Major Crimes,” a spin-off from long-running “The Closer,” and “Perception,” starring Eric McCormack as a mentally unstable crime solver.
No premiere date yet for TNT’s “Monday Mornings,” produced by David E. Kelley and CNN’s medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, about the weekly morbity conferences held by doctors to discuss what went wrong with patient care.
Kelley’s new medical series, “Monday Mornings,” comes days after the cancellation of his Kathy Bates drama “Harry’s Law” on NBC.
At last year’s Turner upfronts, a power surge caused a temporary blackout during the network’s presentation to advertisers. However, it did make a brief star out of Turner Entertainment Networks president Steve Koonin, who launched into an impromptu stand-up routine.
The network poked fun at malfunction during an intro video clip, where Koonin was introduced as a survivor of Post Traumatic Upfront Disorder. When he appeared on stage, he rolled an old school overhead projector and markers, just in case.