Wednesday, October 08, 2008

SitcomsOnline.com 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 (http://www.wgnamerica.com/) 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) http://www.wgnamerica.com. 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 it...as 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 (March/April)

The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season Father Knows Best - Season Five

03/03 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Now... In Living Color! (Blu-ray)
03/07 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Second Season
03/07 - Mama's Family - Mama's Favorites
03/07 - That '70s Show - The Complete Series - Flashback Edition (Blu-ray)
03/07 - What I Like About You - The Complete Second Season
03/07 - You Me Her - Season One
03/14 - Newhart - The Final (Eighth) Season
03/14 - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Season Two
03/21 - Master of None - Season One
04/04 - Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season
04/11 - Father Knows Best - Season Five
04/11 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Third Season
04/11 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
04/11 - Veep - The Complete Fifth Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Thursday, April 27

The Big Bang Theory - "The Cognition Regeneration" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Leonard isn’t thrilled when Penny considers taking a new job offered by her ex-boyfriend, Zack (Brian Thomas Smith).

The Great Indoors - "The Heartbreaker" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Jack sets up a double date to get Eddie out of a post-divorce rut, but the night gets awkward when they run into Denise (Essence Atkins), Eddie’s ex-wife. Also, when Emma decides to breakup with her boyfriend, Greg (Andy Ridings), Clark is torn between making a move on her and salvaging his friendship with Greg.

Mom - "A Cricket and a Hedge Made of Gold" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
When Marjorie takes a break from the group, Bonnie becomes the go-to for everyone’s problems, and Christy tries to overcome a painful memory from her past.

Life in Pieces - "Ear Scorn Registry Manuscript" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When Colleen goes to Tim for help with an embarrassing ailment, she begs him not to tell the family. Also, Dougie (Fortune Feimster) enlists Joan to help her buy a gift for Matt and Colleen’s wedding; Heather gets jealous when her friends want to include Jen in their mommy group; and Professor Sinclair Wilde (Cary Elwes) encourages Joan to ask her family to read a draft of her book.

Superstore - "Ladies' Lunch" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
During the morning meeting, Glenn (Mark McKinney) accidentally tells the employees the real reason Amy (America Ferrera) has been late to work lately. Meanwhile, Dina (Lauren Ash) tries to cheer up Amy by kidnapping her for a "ladies' lunch." Jonah (Ben Feldman) and Garrett (Colton Dunn) invent a game to pass the time, tricking Glenn and Mateo (Nico Santos) in the process. Cheyenne (Nichole Bloom) helps Amy take a fearless step with a dramatic new look.

Superstore - "Cheyenne's Wedding" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
It's Cheyenne (Nichole Bloom) and Bo's (recurring guest star Johnny Pemberton) dream wedding, but not everything goes according to plan. Meanwhile, relationships unravel as Amy (America Ferrera) and Jonah (Ben Feldman) dodge relationship rumors. Glenn (Mark McKinney) tries to change Jeff's (recurring guest star Michael Bunin) mind after learning of upcoming layoffs, Dina (Lauren Ash) talks her way into the wedding party and Mateo (Nico Santos) dodges Jeff throughout the wedding.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 24)

Thursday, April 27

  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep/The New Adventures of Old Christine/Seinfeld) - Catch Julia on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Kevin Nealon (Man with a Plan/Weeds/Hiller and Diller/Champs) - Kevin appears on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) - Thomas stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Patton Oswalt (The Goldbergs/The King of Queens) - Patton is a guest on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Allison Janney (Mom/Mr. Sunshine) - Allison appears on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • John Benjamin Hickey (The Big C/It's All Relative) - John visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • John Leguizamo (The Brothers Garcia) - John guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • America Ferrera (Superstore) - America chats about Superstore on NBC's Today in the 10am hour and on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Geoff Stults (Enlisted) - Geoff is a guest on Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Michael Strahan (Brothers) - Michael plays Pyramid on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Perrey Reeves (Entourage) - Perrey makes a kale salad on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Jenna Elfman (Imaginary Mary/1600 Penn/Courting Alex/Accidentally on Purpose/Dharma & Greg) - Jenna will be on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Geena Davis (The Geena Davis Show/Buffalo Bill) - Geena talks about A League of Their Own on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Anna Baryshnikov (Superior Donuts) - Anna talks about Superior Donuts on the AOL Build Show at 1pm.
  • Christopher Meloni (Surviving Jack/The Fanelli Boys) - Christopher appears on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.