Thursday, September 11, 2008

SitcomsOnline.com Exclusive: Interview with ION Television; ABC Moves Samantha Who Season Premiere; TBS Renews Engvall Sitcom


We have a very exciting interview for you today. We finally have the long awaited interview with ION Television, just in time for their new changes that happened this week! As always with our interviews, it is in Seven Questions form!

We had the pleasure to interview Eleo Hensleigh, CMO, ION Media Networks, Inc. Eleo was named Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) in February 2008 and develops, manages and implements all marketing and branding activities across the Company in support of the network and digital multiplatform portfolio. Ms. Hensleigh leads all consumer-facing and business-to-business branding and marketing activities company-wide. She is also in charge of leading the expansion of the Company's research organization, providing qualitative and quantitative audience, consumer, sales and media planning insights for all divisions. Previously, Ms. Hensleigh was with Disney-ABC, where, over her tenure, she oversaw the marketing and branding functions of both the Television and Cable Groups. She served as Chief Marketing Officer & Executive Vice President, Marketing & Brand Strategy, and was involved in the marketing, advertising, research, media planning, synergy, creative services and promotion divisions for ABC Television Networks.
ION Television is a general entertainment network which reaches over 94 million U.S. television households via its nationwide broadcast television, cable and satellite distribution systems. Launched in 2006, ION Television features popular TV series and movies from the award-winning libraries of RHI Entertainment, CBS Television, NBC Universal, Sony Pictures Television, Twentieth Television and Warner Bros. Parent company, ION Media Networks, Inc., owns and operates the nation's largest broadcast television station group.

We thank Eleo and ION Television for taking the time to answer some of the most interesting questions we have for them. So it is time for another installment of SitcomsOnline's Seven Questions Series! We need a jingle...

"Seven Questions with ION Television"

SitcomsOnline: First off, thanks so much for the opportunity and your time! ION has certainly made bold acquisitions to bolster its primetime line-up. The deals for Boston Legal, ER, NCIS, Criminal Minds, and Ghost Whisperer were very huge and will change the face of ION to more of a mainstream network. For the shows that are currently airing on broadcast television, will their current seasons be available to ION after the season ends on broadcast? For example, ER was bought for seasons 11-14, but season 15 starts on NBC this fall...will ION have access to season 15 after the 2008-09 season ends?
ION: Starting Monday, September 8th, ION Television has started offering viewers a new, "Positively Entertaining" slate of strategically acquired fall programming that appeals to a younger, broader audience. Regarding currently-airing seasons of off-network series, the arrangements are unique to each show.

SitcomsOnline: What will happen to the older shows ION has aired in the past like Mama's Family, Alice and Who's the Boss? Mama's Family has certainly been the face of ION for the last few years but now ION wants to separate itself from that. Why is that? Couldn't Mama just be moved out of primetime into say an afternoon slot like 4pm since it did so well for the network?
ION: While these classic programs reflected ION Television's traditional audience base, the new network brand is strongly focused on our current identity, which is bold, innovative and "Positively Entertaining" to our growing adult 25-54 audience.

SitcomsOnline: ION's expansion is great, but still plenty of hours are filled with paid programming. Many people want to know why is this and can we expect more paid programming hours to be removed little by little?
ION: ION is currently focusing on its primetime programming. Following the successful launch of ION Television's fall 2008 lineup, the network will move to address a full daytime strategy, with the goal of shifting away from paid programming. In April 2008, ION Television extended its weekday entertainment schedule by an additional hour of programming from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Beginning September 8th, the network plans on expanding its programming lineup by yet another hour, starting at 4:00 p.m.

SitcomsOnline: There have been some shows that never really got a chance to air, like Perfect Strangers and Growing Pains, will they come back? Has ION thought about creating an early afternoon block (or even late nights) filled with older sitcoms from the 70s and 80s leading into their late afternoon/evening block starting at 4pm?
ION: We are considering a lot of possibilities right now. It would be premature to announce anything, but we are looking at a variety of ways to serve our growing audience with the kind of fresh, "Positively Entertaining" programming that fits our brand promise.

SitcomsOnline: ION wants to build on the age 25-54 demographic, correct? I think so far ION has done a good job with the recent pick-ups like ER and Boston Legal, but I don't understand how most of the RHI films will be of that demographic? Most of them, especially the westerns, seem to be for age 55+. Will the RHI films be more younger now, even the library ones?
ION: Many of the RHI library films are Emmy Award winning films that were made for a broad audience. The original films that are being created for ION Television speak to that audience, and hold great appeal for adults 25-54. For instance, the network recently aired Jekyll and Hyde, starring Dougray Scott - who was recently a regular on the contemporary hit show, Desperate Housewives.

SitcomsOnline: ION has also created an African American initiative, which right now has a block of Hangin' with Mr. Cooper and Steve Harvey Show from 5-7pm, with Wayans Bros. airing recently as well. What can we expect of this initiative in the future and what exactly is it?
ION: ION Television has a partnership in place with Star Media and OMG to develop diverse programming for an urban audience. The partnership is aimed at providing programming to this audience and re-investing in original programming over time.

SitcomsOnline: Finally, ION certainly has access to various programming libraries it seems, from Sony Pictures Television (shows like Charlie's Angels, Partridge Family), Warner Bros (shows like Perfect Strangers, Wonder Years) and Universal (shows like Amen, McHale's Navy). Would it be possible for ION to create a digital channel, like qubo and ION Life, for classic TV or regular programs? This way these programming libraries could be more used if they don't work or fit on ION Television.
ION: Utilizing its digital multicasting capability and national reach, ION Media Networks' digital TV brands, qubo, a television and multimedia network for children formed in partnership with several leading media and entertainment companies, and ION Life, the country's first multicast network dedicated to active lifestyles, personal growth and positive values, have flourished. Both "diginets," which present branded program offerings on ION Television, serve to educate and engage priming viewers with positive messaging and helpful information. We are constantly innovating and looking for ways to effectively leverage our programming to deepen our engagement with our audience and to grow our audience over time.

Our thanks to to ION Television and Eleo Hensleigh, and best wishes in making ION Television establish itself with their new contemporary hits! We do hope the older sitcoms/shows appear in the daytime or in some way (would fit with M*A*S*H), as ION has announced that they do have plans to remove paid programming in the daytime. Our apologies to Matt Damon, we ran out of time. For more information on ION Television, continue to stay with us for info and don't forget to view their newly designed website with a new URL http://www.iontelevision.com/. So, stay tuned right here on the blog for news updates for this network.


ABC has pushed back the second season premiere of sitcom Samantha Who? back a week to Monday, October 13 at 9:31PM ET/PT following Dancing with the Stars. It was previously scheduled to launch on October 6 in that time period. ABC likely did it because of the debate on Tuesday, October 7. On that night ABC has announced it will move the Dancing with the Stars: The Results from 9PM to 8PM, so they can air the Debate from 9-11PM ET. The season premiere of Samantha Who? will be dancing-themed and have guest stars Cybil Shepherd and Dancing with the Stars pro Mark Ballas! It should be fun...I have it in advance and will watch it soon and let you know how it went.
For other recent ABC schedule updates, head on over to our message board for a listing.

After another highly successful run this summer, TBS has ordered a third season of its top-rated original sitcom The Bill Engvall Show. TBS has ordered 10 episodes of the show, which will return to the network in summer 2009.
Set in a Denver suburb, The Bill Engvall Show focuses on family counselor Bill Pearson and his wife, Susan, who strive to raise three well-adjusted children in an ever-changing world. The show offers a humorous look at parenting in the 21st century, a task Susan finds especially challenging because Bill is often as much of a handful as the kids.
Throughout its two seasons on TBS, The Bill Engvall Show has been embraced by viewers. The show's July 2007 series debut was watched by more than 4.1 million viewers and landed among ad-supported cable's Top 3 sitcom telecasts of all-time among adults 25-54 and households, according to data from Nielsen Media Research. This past summer, the show averaged 2.3 million viewers and ranked as ad-supported cable's #1 program in its time period among adults 18-49.
In December, TBS will present two special episodes of The Bill Engvall Show, just in time for the holidays!


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, May 22

Roseanne - "Knee Deep" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Roseanne’s knee gets worse so Dan is forced to a make an important work decision; but when a major storm hits Lanford, their fortunes change for the better. Later, Darlene realizes she has to go back to her first passion … writing.

The Middle - "A Heck of a Ride: Part One" / "A Heck of a Ride: Part Two" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
After nine hilarious and heartfelt seasons, a Heck leaves the nest as the family takes a road trip to Denver, where Axl will start his new job – and new life away from home.

Splitting Up Together - "Heat Wave" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Lena and Martin choose to share the house for the summer while the children are away at camp despite Lena’s reservations, but both soon realize it might not be the worst idea. Meanwhile, they collectively agree to throw their annual backyard piƱa colada party where they will celebrate their independence from their children. Elsewhere, a friendly face returns back home and Martin can’t help but see it as a sign.

The Last O.G. - "That Backslide" (TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Left reeling from the error of his ways, Tray goes into a tailspin and turns to Bobby for support.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of May 21)

Tuesday, May 22

  • Chris Hardwick (Guys Like Us) - Catch Chris on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) - Thomas appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Cristin Milioti (A to Z/How I Met Your Mother) - Cristin is a guest on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Cedric the Entertainer (The Last O.G./The Soul Man/The Steve Harvey Show) - Cedric visits Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Patricia Heaton (The Middle/Back to You/Everybody Loves Raymond) - Patricia talks about the series finale of The Middle on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings. Mychael Symon cooks with Patricia on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • David Spade (The Mayor/Rules of Engagement/8 Simple Rules/Just Shoot Me!) - David appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Geena Davis (The Geena Davis Show/Buffal Bill) - Geena is a guest on Access Live, so check your local listings.
  • Nolan Gould (Modern Family) - Nolan talks about Modern Family on Chatter on PeopleTV at 8pm.
  • Dan Fogler (Man Up!) - Dan talks about his new book Brooklyn Gladiator on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Will Arnett (Arrested Development/The Millers/Up All Night) and Tony Hale (Arrested Development/Veep) - Will and Tony talk about Arrested Development on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • William Shatner ($h*! My Dad Says) - William is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Gillian Jacobs (Love/Community) - Gillian talks about her new film Ibiza on the BUILD Series at 5pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (March/April/May)

Atlanta - The Complete First Season Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Complete Ninth Season One Day at a Time - Season Two Perfect Strangers  - The Complete Third Season Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Final (Eighth) Season

03/06 - Atlanta - The Complete First Season
03/06 - Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Complete Ninth Season
03/13 - The New Adventures of Old Christine - The Complete First Season
03/27 - One Day at a Time - Season Two
04/03 - Ballers - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
04/03 - 90's Sitcom (Just Shoot Me!/The Larry Sanders Show/Wings) Starter Set - Season 1 & 2 Bundle
04/10 - Vice Principals - The Compelte Series
04/17 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Third Season
05/08 - Dear White People - Season 1
05/08 - Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Final (Eighth) Season
05/29 - I'm Dying Up Here - Season 1
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest