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3 items from 2008

Keith Samples leaves MRC

22 October 2008 5:00 AM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

With its ambitious TV strategy facing harsh reality in its first real test this fall, indie Media Rights Capital is parting ways with TV head Keith Samples.

Samples, who started the company's TV division 16 months ago and built its programming slate, will officially leave Oct. 31.

Speculation about the departure of Samples -- the architect of MRC's time-buy deal with the CW, under which MRC programs Sunday night for the network -- began early this month. Things intensified when the company shut down production on its two low-rated scripted series for the CW for what MRC claimed was a "planned hiatus."

An MRC spokeswoman denied that Samples is leaving, maintaining that he is "still on board" but "has been focusing more on ad sales in the run-up to CW debuts."

Since its Oct. 5 debut, the CW's Sunday night block -- on which MRC partnered with Tribune Broadcasting, owner of key CW »

- By Nellie Andreeva

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CW teams with MRC for primetime block

9 May 2008 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

The CW is partnering with Media Rights Capital to program its Sunday primetime programming block next season.

The block, kicking off in the fall, will feature four new shows -- two comedies and two dramas -- from "top producers and creative talent." Further details will be announced soon, the companies said.

"This is a strategic move by the CW that will give viewers more original programming on Sunday nights than we have ever had," CW president Dawn Ostroff said. "As the leading independent producer of television programming, MRC will bring a slate of high-quality entertainment to our air on the most competitive night on television, while we will focus our resources and efforts on strengthening our Monday through Friday schedule."

Added CW COO John Maatta: "This kind of alliance is becoming common in our business, and it's a win for all involved: affiliates, advertisers and viewers. It will also allow our sales team more opportunity to capitalize on our new Friday night schedule with the departure of wrestling, as that is such a critical night for retailers and marketers with a weekend product push."

"Our blend of comedy and drama will be exciting, accessible and a perfect fit for the network and its affiliate constituency," MRS president of television Keith Samples said. »

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Comedy Central orders new projects

13 March 2008 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Comedy Central is moving into the fantasy arena, greenlighting a scripted live-action series dubbed Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire.

In addition, the cable network has ordered pilots or presentations of projects starring a range of talent, including an animated comedy with Snoop Dogg, a sketch show starring Andy Richter and a fake-magazine show featuring David Alan Grier.

Those are just a few of the projects on an extensive 2008-09 slate announced Wednesday by Lauren Corrao, president of original programming and development, who noted that "funny always comes first" when putting a slate together at the network.

"It really is about the comedy and the point of view, whether it's the on-air talent or the writer behind it," she said.

Corrao is hoping to pick up a total of four of five projects to series from the 2008-09 slate, which will include any other projects added in the coming months.

As for Krod Mandoon, that series marks the network's first fantasy-comedy series and first project to receive a series order off the slate. The show, set to premiere in first-quarter 2009, is described as a character-driven comedy that centers on reluctant hero Krod Mandoon, a sensitive, clueless freedom fighter who becomes the last great hope in a medieval struggle.

Krod Mandoon is written by Peter Knight, who executive produces with Keith Samples, Brad Johnson, Courtney Conte and Flody Juarez. The show has yet to be cast.

Corrao said the timing was right to add a fantasy-comedy to the network's schedule, which is set in historic times but will feature more contemporary dialogue.

"That script came to us as a spec, and we fell in love with the writer's voice," she said. »

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