Less commercials, more grit and Shakespeare: TNT 2016 Upfronts

TNT Shakespeare series Will Barb Oates

When TNT execs said they were going less procedural with their rebranding strategy earlier this year they weren’t kidding. While Rizzoli & Isles begins its final season starting June 6, what follows is an explosive lineup that will make any granny, hooked on TNT police procedural, blush.

TNT announced to advertisers at Turner’s 2016 Upfronts their slate of original programming for next year, which includes an unconventional, hip and edgy, period drama on William Shakespeare titled — simply — Will.

“The word is out before we have even premiered our first show: We’re reaching for something special — taking creative risks with some of the best talent out there and pushing for the best viewing experience on ad-supported TV. And we’re just getting started,” said Kevin Reilly, president of TNT and TBS, chief creative officer for Turner Entertainment.

As part of the network’s programming transformation, TNT is going to air less commercials, essentially adding an extra 10 minutes of story to each episode of some of their new dramas like the Ellen Barkin and Scott Speedman crime family drama Animal Kingdom (premiering June 14 – also Channel Guide’s cover story for June) and the Michelle Dockery drama Good Behavior, premiering later this fall.

TNT Shakespeare series WillAdditional announcements and further details include:

  • The TNT Shakespeare series Will gets 10 episodes, where newcomer Laurie Davidson will play the 16th-century star — young William Shakespeare. The series comes from executive producers Craig Pearce (The Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge!, Romeo + Juliet), Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth), Alison Owen (Elizabeth) and Debra Hayward (Love Actually). The pilot for Will was written by Pearce and directed by Kapur.
  • TNT ordered a pilot for Civil, which is being described as a gripping political and social drama in the wake of a hotly contested Presidential election (eesh — could this be predictive of what’s to come?), as America finds itself plunging uncontrollably into a modern day Civil War.
  • Niecy Nash is added to the cast of Claws, an outrageous dramedy set in a Florida nail salon that follows the lives of five diverse and treacherous manicurists (this is no Steal Magnolias). Nash will play the owner of the salon, Desna Simms.
  • This summer TNT and TBS will launch apps on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Google Chromecast.
  • Also slated for next year is The Alienist, based on Caleb Carr’s New York Times bestseller about a serial killer in New York during the Gilded Age.
  • Previously announced Tales from the Crypt, a new horror block executive-produced by M. Night Shyamalan and built around a revival of the classic anthology series, is still a coming but is now planned for next year.