We've always kind of known the TV Guide Channel was somewhere on our cable box, waiting to be consulted. With all the ways to get listings, however, we kind of ignored it. So now, logically enough, the channel is going Pop. The change comes Wednesday (Jan. 14); here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
PASADENA, Cal. --
For decades, the TV Guide Network was like a quiet party host,
someone people ignore except when they need directions to the
It was in 80 million
homes, but mostly people used it to find listings. “We were a
channel that told you to go to other channels,” said Brad Schwartz,
the network's president.
Now the makeover
begins. On Wednesday (Jan. 14), this becomes Pop, a channel focusing
on popular culture and its fans. “Fandom is fun,” Schwartz said.
“It's optimistic, it's passionate, it's shareable.”
That may be obvious
on the first day; on Wednesday, Pop will:
-- Obsess on the New
Kids on the Block. Various specials (including one visiting the New
Kids cruise) run from 9-11 a.m., 4:30-6 p.m., 8-9 p.m. and 10-11 p.m.
-- Launch “The
Story Behind,” which each Wednesday will eye a past TV show. That
starts at 9 p.m. (rerunning at 11), with “Everybody Loves Raymond”;
coming are “ER,” “Friends” and more.
-- Air old movies –
“Uncle Buck” (1989) at 11 a.m. and “Kindergarten Cop” (1990)
at 1:30 p.m. Next week brings daytime reruns of “Beverly Hills,
90210” and its remake; “Melrose Place” is next.
“PopSugar” at 6 p.m. and midnight. It's an upbeat entertainment
show that has just added Shenae Grimes Beech (an actress who was in
the “90210” remake) as a host.
Those shows have
modest budgets, which we expect. “As a small, emerging network, we
have to watch our pennies very closely,” Schwartz said.
Still, he's also
landed a scripted comedy. “Schitt's Creek” (debuting Feb. 11) has
Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara of “SCTV” as heads of a
once-rich family, now penniless. There are eccentric (and hilarious)
moments ... sort of what people want from cable channels. “We have
enormous creative freedom .... We've really been left to do the show
the way we wanted to do it,” Levy said.
This is a
transformation for a network that has been around (and ignored) since
1981. Under different names (including Prevue Guide), it often had
primitive shows alongside TV listings.
Then the channel's
parent company bought TV Guide. Prevue became the TV Guide Channel in
1999 and TV Guide Network in 2007; it kept the name, even after it
was sold in 2009 to Lionsgate, the “Hunger Games” and “Mad Men”
In 2013, CBS joined
Lionsgate in running the channel. Now CBS' soaps rerun there -- “The
Bold and the Beautiful” at 6:30 p.m. and “The Young and the
Restless” at 7. A CBS summer show yields “Big Brother After
Dark,” a talk show that does well in the ratings hit.
There's more: CBS
owns “Entertainment Tonight.” Beginning with the Grammys, the
“ET” people will do red-carpet coverage for Pop. “They're the
first spot on the carpet,” Schwartz said.
The TV Guide Network
had dropped out of red-carpet coverage, ceding glitzy turf to cable's
E channel. Now it's back; it also added that daily show from the
“PopSugar” Web site. “We look at the world in the same way
'PopSugar' does,” Schwartz said. “They're fans of everything
going on in pop culture.”
Also on the way are:
-- “Queens of
Drama,” in April. It's a reality show, with former soap stars (from
Vanessa Marcil to Donna Mills) scheming to create a new primetime
-- “Sing It On,”
which follows six a cappella groups, as they prepare for a national
-- And more.
Upcoming shows, Schwartz said, will see celebrities linking with
inventors ... or describing their worst experiences ... or describing
the first time they had sex. “It will be done in a comedic way with
puppets or animation. (But) I don't think there will be re-enactments
of sex with puppets.” Even pop culture, it seems, has its limits.