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"T" Channels – TBS, TruTV, TNT – Roll Out Upcoming Shows at TCA
July 27, 2017  | By Ed Bark

BEVERLY HILLS, CA -- Step right up to a sprawling, eclectic batch of TBS/TruTV/TNT presentations squeezed into a morning bloc Thursday during Turner Networks' no-space-wasted turn at the TCA summer "press tour."

This included TBS & TNT president Kevin Reilly pedaling out on a low-rider bicycle before being joined, not entirely on time, by Snoop Dogg and a very tricked up double-the-length bike of shimmering silver, yellow and brown.

Reilly (right,) a former key programming executive at FX, NBC and Fox, pledged an extreme makeover of Turner's major entertainment networks during a Jan. 2016 press tour presentation. He's since been hard at it, adding unconventional comedies such as "People of Earth" and "Search Party" to TBS while giving TNT an injection of edgy dramas on the order of "Animal Kingdom, Good Behavior" and "Claws."

Snoop Dogg, greeted by an awkwardly reverential Reilly, will be hosting TBS' upcoming reboot of "The Joker's Wild," which he avidly watched as a kid. African-American males lately have struck gold as game show emcees, with Steve Harvey, Michael Strahan and Anthony Anderson also respectively presiding over revivals of "Celebrity Family Feud, The $100,000 Pyramid" and "To Tell the Truth."

"It's putting back an old show with a new spirit and a fly host," Snoop (right) said during a brief Q&A after Reilly conducted his own notably star struck interview.

"This is very meaningful to me," Reilly said as Snoop exited. "This is going to be my most memorable session ever."

(Later in these proceedings, James Corden, co-executive producer of TBS' upcoming "Drop the Mic" celeb rap competition, said in parting, "I think Kevin Reilly was smoking weed (backstage). I have no idea who else it could have been.")

Then there was Tracy Morgan (top), who was "knocking at death's door" -- as TBS executive Brett Weitz put it -- after his near-fatal car accident three summers ago. Starting on Oct. 14, Morgan will be starring in the TBS comedy "The Last O.G."

"This is not my reward," he said, pointing to a large gold chain around his neck. "My reward is when He welcomed me back into his kingdom . . . I had to get hit by a truck. If I didn't get hit by a truck, I wouldn't be back on the road."

Morgan will play a newly freed ex-con named Tray, who spent 15 years in prison after being convicted of dealing crack. While living at a halfway house run by Miniard Mullins (Cedric the Entertainer), he learns that his "newly gentrified" old Brooklyn neighborhood has changed dramatically. A further jolt: his former girlfriend, Shay (Tiffany Haddish), has married a congenial white businessman who's helping to raise the twins that Tray never knew he had.

"It's not only going to explore the black community, but humanity," Morgan said. "There are white people coming home from prison, too."

The cast and crew of "The Last O.G." pay close attention to his physical well-being, Morgan said, telling him to "sit down for a while" when necessary.

He generously singled out those cast members who weren't getting any questions during the interview session, noting the importance of their characters.

"Maybe I'm just a better man now since the accident," Morgan said. "It all ain't about me. It's bigger than me."

Your reasonably friendly TVWorthWatching correspondent didn't particularly want to rain on this parade -- or more specifically on costar Haddish (right). She's currently basking in the box office success and critical praise for the feature film "Girls Trip."

But during the course of promoting it, Haddish very recently sparked outrage in some quarters by telling an interviewer, "I still want to work with Bill Cosby. I don't care, I'll drink the juice. I'll take a nap. I don't give a damn. But seriously, I would love for him to play my grandfather in something."

Toward the end of the interview session, the topic was gingerly raised by the notorious TVWW. Would Haddish like to "clarify" what she said. Had her comments perhaps been misinterpreted? She had not previously commented on this.

To her credit, Haddish waded right in.

"What I said was a joke," she contended. "You go through about 27 interviews and you're supposed to be humorous all that time . . . You're going to come out with a few not good jokes. And I was trying to make it seem like, you know, I'm not afraid to do anything. I'm not afraid of any kind of job. I'm not afraid to play any kind of role as long as it doesn't compromise my morals.

"I've been through things," Haddish added. "I've been victimized. I don't agree with what he (Cosby) did or anything. But at the end of the day, I'm not afraid of the big bad wolf. That's what I was trying to say, and I was trying to do it in a humorous way. So that's what's that."

The three-hour Turner Networks endurance fest began with a clip from "The Problem with Apu," an upcoming TBS documentary film in which comedian Hari Kondabolu takes strong issue with the stereotypical convenience owner on "The Simpsons."

People ask him why he just doesn't let it go, Kondabolu says in footage shown to TV critics. "Well, I have let it go -- for 28 years."

The longstanding voice of Apu, actor Hank Azaria, sort of defends the characterization while Whoopi Goldberg is asked, "Does Apu count as a minstrel?" She tells Kondabolu that he basically fits all the criteria.

There was no panel for the show. Instead, Amy Sedaris (right) led off with her new TruTV series "At Home with Amy Sedaris," scheduled to launch late this year.

It's not a sendup of Martha Stewart, to whom Sedaris doesn't relate because she's "too perfect." Rather, the show is more modeled after "The Galloping Gourmet, Two Fat Ladies" and the like, she told TVWorthWatching.

She'll play four or five different fictional domestic divas who instruct guests on gift-giving,  "the craft of lovemaking," etc. Stephen Colbert and Jane Krakowski are set to play themselves while Paul Giamatti, Chris Elliott and Rachel Dratch drop in as other characters.

Sedaris says she's capable of doing a few things around the house, such as cooking for herself and making pot holders. Otherwise, 'I'm good at making people do things for me."

"The Chris Gethard Show," birthed on public access TV in New York before landing on the Fusion network, will have a new late night home on TruTV, starting Aug. 3rd.

"We sold out," Gethard (right) readily admitted. "We own it. We think if we own it, it's not so gross."

His co-host, Shannon O'Neill, touts herself as "a real cool lady" while another regular player, Murphy Meyer, is a recovering heroin addict and "currently functioning alcoholic." The show's fourth wheel is Vacation Jason, a fictional slacker who arrived onstage in beach-ready garb and with a cocktail in hand.

Celebrities such as Will Ferrell, Jon Hamm and Amy Poehler readily submitted themselves to earlier versions of the show while the aforementioned Giamatti spent most of an hour being the hidden item in a large dumpster onstage while audience members and phone-callers tried to guess what was under the lid. But the person who "gets it the most," said Gethard, is Sean "Diddy" Combs, who arrives only through the "Diddy Door."

In super-stark contrast, the immediately following panel gathered eight participants under the umbrella title "TNT & TBS's Leading Women of Comedy and Drama."

Empowerment and the need for more of it quickly took hold after TNT programming head Sarah Aubrey (right) cited a litany of statistics from a recent Annenberg study that found female creators of TV shows are outnumbered three to one by their male counterparts. Women still have only one-third of speaking roles and 19 percent of shows have no African-Americans of either sex with any on-camera dialogue.

"We have to aggressively throw open the doors to new and diverse talent," Aubrey proclaimed while emphasizing that Turner networks are doing just that.

Niecy Nash, who heads the cast of TNT's new "Claws," said the business is far different than when she broke in 20 years ago as an African-American woman who was told, "You do broad comedy," with no more or less expected of her.

Lately, though, "there are a lot of women of a certain age doing things on TV and making it look good and sexy," Nash said. "And people want to show up for it. I think that's a beautiful thing, too. You don't die on the vine at 40."

Michelle Dockery, who segued from the genteel "Downton Abbey" to TNT's rough-and-tumble "Good Behavior," applauded being able to play a "bad ass" who's also flawed and  vulnerable.

"They make weird, interesting sh*t," said "People of Earth" co-star Nasim Pedrad, praising TBS for now being "so rogue."

Then Reilly rode out on a bicycle. Cut. Print.

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