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, October 17

The Middle - "Meet the Parents" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Frankie is stoked when Axl invites her and Mike to meet and have dinner with girlfriend Lexie’s rich parents, Tammy (Lisa Rinna) and Bennett. But Frankie is worried that their less then luxurious lifestyle may put a damper on their meeting. Meanwhile, Brick is excited to be a part of the Sophomore Slammer fundraiser, in which fellow classmates fake arrest each other and friends come to pay money – which will go to charity – to bail them out. But Brick soon discovers that no matter how hard he tries, he just can’t get arrested.

Fresh Off the Boat - "Kids" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
With the realization that Eddie is finally mature enough to be left on his own, Louis and Jessica see the light at the end of their parenting tunnel and make plans to spend more time with friends Honey and Marvin. Until their neighbors announce a plan of their own: Marvin is getting his vasectomy reversed so the couple can conceive a baby. The Huangs do their best to dissuade them.

black-ish - "Elder. Scam." (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Ruby gets scammed and Dre begins to suspect that she isn’t as sharp as she used to be, particularly because she was the one who used to scam other people. Zoey’s friend Aaron visits and Diane develops an instant crush on him.

The Mayor - "Buyer's Remorse" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
As Courtney settles into his new role as mayor, he’s faced with a dismal approval rating as the citizens of Fort Grey express their lack of confidence in his ability to lead, as well as those on his own staff. He realizes that he needs to take an unconventional approach when dealing with Councilman Ed Gunt (David Spade) and comes up with a plan to quickly turn public opinion in his favor.

The Mick - "The Haunted House" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Mickey and Jimmy organize a special Halloween party at their mansion, but the party soon goes awry; Sabrina hopes to further her legacy with the party; Mickey becomes determined to give a group of practical jokers a lesson.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "Halloveen" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When the fifth annual Nine-Nine Halloween Heist begins, everybody scrambles to make a plan to come out on top of the competition, which tests various friendships and relationships as they struggle to earn the title of "Amazing Human Slash Genius."

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 16)

Tuesday, October 17

  • Paul Shaffer (A Year at the Top) - Paul sits in with Cleto and The Cletones on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Jerry Seinfeld (Seinfeld) - Jerry appears on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Bobby Moynihan (Me, Myself & I) - Bobby is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Kate Micucci (Raising Hope/Scrubs) - Kate appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • David Arquette (In Case of Emergency/Parenthood) - David stops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Jason Alexander (Seinfeld/Bob Patterson/Listen Up!) - Jason visits The Wendy Williams Show at 2am on BET or on your local stations.
  • Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) - Terry teaches Harry his signature jump pose on Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Brandon Micheal Hall (The Mayor) - Brandon is a guest on Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Jason Ritter (The Class) - Jason talks about his new ABC show Kevin (Probably) Saves the World on the People Now at 8:30am.
  • Lana Parrilla (Spin City) - Lana appears on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Ron Livingston (Loudermilk) - Ron talks about the Audience Network's Loudermilk on the AOL Build Show at 2pm and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Kimberly Williams-Paisley (According to Jim) - Kimberly talks about the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries original Darrow & Darrow on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat) - Randall is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (June/July/August)

Father Knows Best - Season Six Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season Alice - The Complete Fifth Season Rhoda - Season Four Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four

06/13 - The Andy Griffith Show - Return to Mayberry
06/13 - That's My Mama - The Complete Series
06/20 - Workaholics - The Final (Seventh) Season
06/20 - Workaholics - The Complete Series
06/27 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Third Season
07/04 - Superstore - Season Two
07/18 - Father Knows Best - Season Six
07/25 - Diff'ernt Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season
07/25 - Girls - The Final (Sixth) Season (Blu-ray)
08/01 - Alice - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
08/01 - Crashing - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
08/15 - Rhoda - Season Four
08/22 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four
08/29 - Will & Grace - Season One (Universal)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest