Upfronts ’15: Turner nets unveil unscripted plans

Two more unscripted series are on the way for CNN, and truTV has a host of pilots and a pair of new series on the slate. (Pictured: Impractical Jokers)
May 13, 2015

Turner Entertainment brought its networks together for its upfront presentation in New York City on Wednesday morning (May 13), with CNN, truTV and TBS unveiling upcoming unscripted series.

CNN, in addition to upcoming series previously announced in March, revealed two new unscripted series set to launch in 2016. Declassified from All3Media America explores true stories of American covert operations over eight episodes. Hosted by former U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers, each episode will feature a different covert mission, discussed firsthand by the agents involved. Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Stephen Lambert and Mike Rogers exec produce.

The network will also explore The Eighties through a new series from Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman and Mark Herzog, the team behind previous efforts The Sixties and The Seventies, coming in June.

CNN also announced a second season for The Wonder List with Bill Weir, and a third season for This is Life with Lisa Ling.

Two greenlit unscripted series, three Impractical Jokers  specials and several unscripted pilots are on the way for truTV in 2015/2016.

Adam Ruins Everything, from Big Breakfast, features host Adam Conover employing a blend of comedy, history and science to disprove widespread misconceptions of information we take for granted. The 11 x 30-minute series grew out of a CollegeHumor original online series that has garnered more than 30 million views since its debut in 2014.

The Driver’s Seat (w/t), meanwhile, endeavors to find out what people really talk about while driving. Prompted by their GPS units, drivers and passengers will engage in comical conversations about a variety of topics. The 12 x 30-minute series is produced by Original Media.

Pilots include an untitled project with Tom Segura and Christina Pazsitsky, following the married comedians as they navigate the transformation from broke 20-somethings to relatively stable 30-somethings living in sunny Southern California. Smartface (w/t), from Alevy Productions and Core Media Group, is a “guerilla-style game show” in which contestants must pick random individuals to answer questions on their behalf, based on appearance alone.

Other pilots include MaryJanes (w/t), a docuseries from Pilgrim Studios that follows a family-run marijuana distribution business operated by four women along with their parents, grandparents, and brother. Matador brings The FXFL (w/t) to truTV, following NFL hopefuls playing in a football minor league, and Jake and Amir, from Electus and Pacific Electric Picture Co., features CollegeHumor stars Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld.

The Impractical Jokers  team (pictured) will be featured in three half-hour specials airing in August and September.

In a statement, Kevin Reilly, president of TBS and TNT and chief content officer for Turner Entertainment, said both networks would be undergoing a “proactive makeover” and pledged to double the number of original series on both nets over the next three years. TBS, particularly, is set to feature “big unscripted ideas with attitude” going forward, says Reilly.

However, there wasn’t much more revealed for the unscripted space in the presentation, with only one TBS program, a relationship-oriented game show with “a unique twist” called Separation Anxiety, mentioned as in the mix for the fall.

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