Turner Broadcasting goes for three with Tyler Perry
Turner Broadcasting has ordered a third television series from Tyler Perry, but this time the prolific producer is tweaking the format with a single-camera comedy-drama tentatively titled "For Better or Worse."
TBS has enjoyed huge success with Perry's traditional multi-camera and multi-generation family sitcoms: "Tyler Perry's House of Payne," which is ending its long run after 222 episodes, and "Meet the Browns," which launched two years ago. The new show, an offshoot of Perry's film series "Why Did I Get Married?" is expected to explore the ups and downs of three married couples and star Michael Jai White, Tasha Smith and Rick Fox.
The network has ordered 10 episodes of the new series from Debmar-Mercury, a division of Lionsgate, which has long championed Perry and his out-of-the-ordinary business model. Production of the new series is expected to begin this summer at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. The air date is scheduled for late fall.
Debmar-Mercury's and Perry's relationship with TBS dates back five years. In 2006, Debmar-Mercury tested Perry's 10-episode pilot of "House of Payne" on 10 local independent stations before getting the green light from the network. Viewers lapped up the series' humor, and the Time Warner Inc. channel ordered an additional 100 episodes to air nationally on TBS.
The deal was a departure from the TV industry's normal practice. Typically, a network orders 22 or 24 episodes a season and executives cross their fingers that the show will be popular enough to last at least four seasons -- the benchmark for a syndication sale.
"Even though it will be sad to say goodbye to "House of Payne," which has taught me so much about what it takes to make a successful television series, I'm really looking forward to exploring new territory with 'For Better or Worse,'" Perry said in a statement.
-- Meg James
Photo: Tyler Perry Credit: Steve Marcus / Reuters