A mere nine months old, Atlanta-based Bounce TV has birthed its two first original programs, which debut Monday, June 18: a sitcom called “Family Time” starring Omar Gooding and a stand-up comedy show “Uptown Comic” featuring Joe Torry has host.
“Uptown Comic” is shot at Center Stage in Midtown and is named partly after Uptown Comedy Corner. (The venue was moved to Center Stage, which is better for cameras.) It will air ten 30-minute episodes featuring three comics per show.
“Family Time,” taped in Los Angeles, has one simple gimmick. The blue-collar family, with two kids in tow, wins a $500,000 lottery ticket and moves on up to a nicer neighborhood. “We used actual lottery tickets,” Gooding said. “Every single one was a winner but more like $3 or $20. I kept them!”
The neighbors are naturally suspicious of them. The key producer Bentley Kyle Evans had previously worked on shows such as “Martin” and “The Jamie Foxx Show.” It’s a six-episode test run, which was shot in what Gooding called a “mind-boggling five days.”
The network, which enters a world where TV habits are shifting sometimes away from the traditional TV, has old-school firepower behind it: creators and investors include former United Nations ambassador and Atlanta mayor Andrew Young, Martin Luther King III and Rainforest Films’ founders Will Packer and Rob Hardy.
Bounce opened last fall with repeats of “Soul Train,” “Judge Hatchett” and classic black-oriented films, plus some football and basketball games from historically-black colleges. The network is now available in 65 million homes and targets African Americans who might also watch Centric or TV One.
It’s a little early to gauge actual ratings. The network is too small. But it’s not a cable network. It’s actually a broadcast network that can be picked up without a cable or satellite connection. “We’re free. So we’re serving that market,” said Ryan Glover, an executive vice president who has worked at Turner Entertainment.
Going down the originals route “is following a well-trodden path,” said Brad Adgate, a director of Research Horizon Media, which provides brand research for TV stations. “Cable networks started with repeats, then original. Online websites are doing original content, too: Netflix, Hulu, even YouTube. I just think networks have to stand out and brand themselves with original content. The natural question is, ‘Is it any good and is it worth the investment?’ “
Glover wants to provide a variety of programming, so there’s going to be gospel, comedy and music, but it will not be raunchy.
“Uptown Comic” is a “clean” show. “It’s not Def Comedy Jam,” Glover said.
Joe Torry, the “Uptown Comic” host, said life is going full circle for him. Early on, he wanted to be on Johnny Carson. Then “Def Comedy Jam” came along. “We were able to freely express ourselves and be as risque as we want,” he said. “It brought a new hip-hop swag to comedy.”
But now, “this show gives you an opportunity to do Johnny Carson again. It’s comedy for families.”
Most of the comics on the show, he said, are from the South, because that’s where the market is. Torry himself lived in Atlanta from 1994 to 2001 and is now a Los Angeles resident.
9 p.m. Mondays, Bounce
9:30 p.m. Mondays, Bounce
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk