Wednesday, October 08, 2008 Exclusive: Interview with WGN America; Lost 80s Week and Halloween Marathon for WGN America

We have a very exciting interview for you today. We have an interview with WGN America about their addings of classic TV and why they did it, their new name change, and more! As always with our interviews, it is in Seven Questions form!

We had the pleasure to interview Sean Compton, SVP Programming and Entertainment for Tribune. Sean previously worked for Clear Channel radio for 16 years and was their VP Programming for 10 years before leaving in April 2008 to run Tribune programming, which includes the massive change for WGN America. Compton oversees programming for Tribune's 23 television stations and for WGN America. Sean is 34 years old and has worked in radio since he was in high school, and he also says his childhood hero was actually legendary NBC programmer Brandon Tartikoff, and he is bringing some of his shows to WGN America. Sean is originally from Connersville, Indiana, which is between Indianapolis and Cincinnati, and he grew up watching those TV markets.
WGN America is TV You Can't Ignore, a broad entertainment network and destination for audiences across America. Part of Tribune Broadcasting Company, WGN America (also available in HD) is nationally distributed via cable, satellite and telco with entertainment programming consisting of cable exclusives, first-run programs, blockbuster movies and live sports.

Sean Compton SVP of Programming for WGN

We thank Sean and WGN America 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 seriously still need a jingle. Any takers out there?

"Seven Questions with WGN America"

SitcomsOnline: Thank you Sean and WGN America for your time. We really appreciate it! My oh my I have to say WGN has become the cable network of the year with its great pick-ups of classic sitcoms and we are so honored to speak to you! Fans have been really happy to see this! What made WGN add the Outta Sight Retro Night on Sundays and all the great classic themed weeks?
WGN America: I am a huge fan of television. It amazes me that these shows haven't been given a platform in many years. While everyone is trying to be hip and fresh, I thought it would be fun to dedicate a night to classic television. Our ratings on Sunday nights have more than doubled in some time periods!

SitcomsOnline: Now that networks like TV Land that seem to be focusing less on picking up classics, will WGN America pick up more classic series? Any hints on what the future might hold classic TV wise for WGN America? How about shows like Perfect Strangers and One Day at a Time?
WGN America: We will not have retro 100% of the time. However, we'll stay committed to Sundays as long as the ratings hold up and we'll continue to have special events like '80s week, '70s week, holiday marathons, etc. Our Sunday retro block started with three hours, now we've dedicated eight hours to retro!

SitcomsOnline: There are some classics that have only aired in the theme weeks (Family Ties, Mork & Mindy, etc). Why is that? Is it because of contract rights or is WGN looking into airing them in the future? Also, how are these classic shows doing ratings wise?
WGN America: We experimented with ALF during an '80s week and the network had its best 18-49 and 25-54 night in years. It proved that parents that loved ALF when they were teens, introduced their kids to the show. Brandon Tartikoff and Fred Silverman were masters at bringing families together and these shows are doing it all over again for us. Because of our ALF success, we have added it to the Sunday retro block and included it in our Monday night primetime line-up!

SitcomsOnline: We like that WGN surrounded the Outta Sight Retro Night on Sunday with more classics like Coach, ALF, Bewitched, and I Dream of Jeannie. So the classic night label expanded on Sundays to reflect these shows joining the original trio of WKRP, Newhart and The Honeymooners? What about expanding the brand on to other nights or better yet, on weekdays?
WGN America: Even though Coach and ALF air in the afternoons on the west coast on Sundays we still brand it as part of the classic retro night. See our latest promo for all your enjoyment. If the ratings continue to climb, we'll probably add more hours and nights.

SitcomsOnline: We have to talk a little about the change to WGN America. Can you tell fans and readers out there why exactly the network changed from Superstation WGN to WGN America?
WGN America: What was 'super' about the old channel? WGN is 30 years old this October and for years it was branded as "Chicago's Own." We've now branded it as "America's WGN Going Forward." We have 72 million homes and one of the oldest channels on cable. We have great heritage but the channel needed a facelift. We have a long way to go still.

SitcomsOnline: The new look website ( looks great, too! Can we expect show pages for more shows? And what else can we expect on the website? Are message boards next?
WGN America: The website will be fully ready in a few weeks. The website you see now is temporary. You can expect a much better site by November 3.

SitcomsOnline: Finally, we see WGN America will add The Bob and Tom Show to its late night brand and the syndicated Disney-ABC series Legend of the Seeker later this fall. Can you tell us a bit about both and how will it affect other late night shows like Corner Gas? Will WGN America continue to air the popular Corner Gas for years to come?
WGN America: We aren't speaking for shows' future other than to say that every show that is on the air now will be evaluated and at the end of the day, it comes down to our viewers. Bob and Tom are America's most successful morning show in radio. They air in 160 markets and are highly rated in most of them. They are a great fit with WGN America for late nights. The Legend of the Seeker looks fantastic. It will air on Wednesday nights and again on Saturday afternoons. I've seen the first ten minutes of the first episode and it is very good stuff! We've put a lot of focus on weekends. We added Boston Legal and it airs Saturday evening. We've also added Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie on middays on Saturdays to give those great shows more exposure to folks not able to see them late Sunday nights (and weekday mornings).
Thanks and we hope to add more retro! It's fun to program!

Our thanks to to WGN America and Sean Compton, and we wish WGN America continued success and hope you guys can deliver us more wonderful and classic shows. Our apologies to Matt Damon, we ran out of time. For more information on WGN America, continue to stay with us for info and don't forget to view their website (full version launches Nov. 3) So, stay tuned right here on the blog for continued news and programming updates for this network.

And those news updates for WGN America starts RIGHT NOW! How convenient! We are turning this day into an all-WGN America day! It just so happens we have news for another theme week for WGN America along with a Halloween marathon, that we mentioned before. We can now reveal that Halloween marathon but first we have to mention the cool theme week!
The next theme week will be called "Lost '80s Week" and will air Monday, October 27 through Thursday, October 30 from 8-10PM ET (5-7PM PT) and will feature four "lost" sitcoms from the '80s that haven't been seen on the air in many years. All four are from Don Taffner's DLT Entertainment. The shows are: Three's Company's two short-lived spin-offs Three's a Crowd & The Ropers, the Ted Knight sitcom Too Close for Comfort, and the Don Adams comedy Check It Out!
The week kicks off with the John Ritter sitcom Three's a Crowd on Monday, October 27 as Jack Tripper now lives with his girlfriend Vicky with constant problems from her father, Mr. Bradford. On Tuesday, October 28, The Ropers take stage as Mr. and Mrs. Roper move in to their new house much to the dislike of neighbor Jeffrey P. Brookes (Jeffrey Tambor). Both Three's a Crowd and The Ropers both briefly aired on TV Land on a few weekend marathons for Three's Company, but they relegated these two shows in the overnight slots of 3-6am in those marathons. And speaking of Three's Company, Sean Compton loves the show (just like I do!) but it is too bad he can't acquire it because TV Land has the rights. He would air the show everyday! Anyway, the third night, Wednesday, October 29, will be one of the most under-appreciated sitcoms ever will air in Too Close for Comfort starring Ted Knight. This sitcom hasn't aired in years despite lasting quite a long time (6 years, 1980-86) and is about Henry Rush and his wife, with his two daughters now living in the apartment downstairs. Finally on Thursday, October 30, we check out with Check It Out, starring the legendary Don Adams leading a staff of a supermarket team.
Check out episode info for this "Lost '80s Week" on WGN America! This is a really good job by WGN America! They don't plan on adding these shows to the actual line-up, but I hope Too Close for Comfort does well so they can add this show is deeply missed. Sean Compton is doing such a wonderful job here!
And we're still not done! That same week is of course Halloween. So on Friday, October 31, from 4PM-12AM ET (1PM-9PM PT) you can catch a marathon of America's scariest (but funny) family...The Munsters! Join Herman, Grandpa, Eddie and the rest of the family this Halloween for scary fun!
Check our episode info for The Munsters Halloween marathon on WGN America! Halloween is not the only holiday getting the marathon treatment on WGN America...coming soon we will reveal what will air on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve/Day and New Year's Eve/Day!

New on DVD/Blu-ray (September)

The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season Modern Family - The Complete Season 7

09/06 - Coach - Season One (Mill Creek) / Season Two / Seasons One and Two
09/06 - South Park - The Complete Ninteenth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season
09/20 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season
09/20 - Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season
09/20 - Modern Family - The Complete Season 7
09/20 - Veep - Season 5
09/27 - The Wonder Years - Season Six
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest

Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Saturday, October 22

Superstore - "Guns, Pills and Birds" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Amy (America Ferrera) assigns an uncomfortable Jonah (Ben Feldman) to the gun section of Cloud 9, Jonah abuses his right-to-refuse sale to anyone that causes concern, causing an open-carry protest to gather in the store. On principle, Glenn (Mark McKinney) attempts to purchase all of the store's morning-after pills, but finds himself in a moral dilemma when he can't afford them. Dina (Lauren Ash), Garrett (Colton Dunn) and Mateo (Nico Santos) hunt down a crow that has flown into the store.

The Thundermans - "Happy Heroween" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
It's a major Halloween storm outside, but inside Colosso keeps the family spooked by telling three scary stories that are sure to terrify even the bravest of superheroes.

School of Rock - "Welcome to My Nightmare" (Nickelodeon, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Mr. Finn's class decides to celebrate Halloween in school after Principal Mullins, who hates the holiday, goes home sick. When she returns sooner than expected, they have to scramble to keep her from finding out the truth.

Complete TV Listings

Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 24)

Saturday, October 22

  • Jim J. Bullock (Too Close for Comfort) - Jim talks about touring the U.S. in Kinky Boots on Oprah: Where Are They Now? at 10pm ET/PT on OWN.
Sunday, October 23
  • Patti LaBelle (Out All Night) - Catch Patti on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
Monday, October 24
  • Ricky Gervais (The Office) - Watch Ricky on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Tom Hanks (Bosom Buddies) - Tom appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He also talks about Inferno on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Elijah Wood (Wilfred) - Elijah is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Ana Gasteyer (People of Earth/Lady Dynamite/Suburgatory) - Ana visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Ron Howard (Happy Days/The Andy Griffith Show) - Ron appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Zooey Deschanel (New Girl) - Zooey is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Michael Chiklis (Daddio) - Michael drops by Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Jameela Jamil (The Good Place) - Jameela appears on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Aya Cash (You're the Worst) - Aya talks about You're the Worst on the AOL Build ShoW at 2pm. She will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth) - Will is a guest on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Mary Steenburgen (The Last Man on Earth/Ink) - Mary talks about The Last Man on Earth on NBC's Today in the 10am hour. She will also be on the AOL Build Show at 12:30pm.
  • Anna Camp (The Mindy Project) - Anna talks about Good Girls Revolt on People Now at 8:30am.
  • James Brolin (Life in Pieces) - James is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.