I am usually a latecomer to mainstream trends – fore example, I only enjoy “Friends” now that its off the air. Likewise, I became a fan of Tyler Perry long after he began selling out playhouses, but at least I was ahead of most of mainstream America’s entertainment consumers and producers.
Anyway, I surprised to see a promo last week while watching Friends (heheh) for a new show called “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.” And you know you’ve hit mainstream when the LAT does a story about your new TV show:
Four years ago, Tyler Perry pitched an idea for a sitcom about a firefighter with two kids who moves in with his parents after his crack-addicted wife burns their house down.
The network executives loved it. Except they didn’t want the hero to be a firefighter. And they didn’t want veteran stage actors Cassi Davis and Lavan Davis to play the leads. And they didn’t want the matriarch to make so many references to Jesus and the Bible. And they wanted to bring in their own writers to help Perry with the script.
Perry got the message: “They wanted a different show.”
So he walked away, though not from “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.” It will debut in June on cable’s Turner Broadcasting System, which bought 100 episodes, sight unseen, for $200 million in an unprecedented deal sealed after test-episodes of the show ran in 10 U.S. markets.
Now, can I put that last graf into perspective? TBS bought 100 episodes, without even knowing what they look like yet, of House of Payne. Heroes, which is arguably this season’s biggest hit, has only sold nine episodes to NBC by the halfway mark of its season. ABC first bought 13 episodes of Ugly Betty, another huge, from-the-behind hit this season, and finally renewed it for a second season just last month.
Basically, with 100 episodes ordered, Tyler Perry has a guaranteed job for at least four years, which must be a rarity in Hollywood. It just confirms a theory I’ve had for a long time – when it’s God giving the blessings, He just keeps on giving. Man.