It’s not easy breaking exclusive news when you’re alongside 200 TV journalists at press tour, but it can be done. While researching my Adweek story on the launch of Pop, I noticed that a retrospective on The Cosby Show, announced last October as part of Pop’s initial slate, had quietly been dropped from the lineup. Brad Schwartz, Pop’s president of entertainment and media, explained his decision to place the episode on “permanent pause”:
“With everything going on, why do you need to run it?” said Schwartz, whose rebranded channel, Pop, celebrates “enthusiastic fandom,” which is pretty much the opposite of how most audiences now feel about Cosby. “I’m not going to pass judgment or make a decision on who’s right and wrong, but it was a very easy decision for us to say, ‘Let’s not air it.'”
The marks at least the fourth Cosby-related program to be taken off the air in the wake of Bill Cosby’s scandal. I also asked Schwartz, who had previously pulled 7th Heaven off TV Guide Network in response to the Stephen Collins child molestation allegations, if there are any circumstances under which the show will air. You’ll have to read what he told me.
While I’ve been busy covering (and writing about) all the panels at winter press tour, I’ve also been conducting several one-on-one interviews with various execs and talent. Many of those will be banked for the weeks and months ahead, but a few of them are running this week. First out of the gate is this Adweek feature on Pop, the new channel that TV Guide Network (also known as TVGN) is relaunching as beginning tomorrow. Brad Schwartz, Pop’s president of entertainment and media, walked me through the relaunch:
He and his team determined that “a complete revolution of the channel, where you completely alienate the people and start again with something fresh and new, is a very difficult road,” as OWN learned when it struggled after rebranding from Discovery Health. Instead, they opted for “an evolution. Let’s stay in this pop culture lane,” and take advantage of parent company CBS’s vast entertainment resources like Entertainment Tonight and Big Brother.
“Fandom, social media and these digital tools, they’ve created these borderless communities of people with shared passions,” explains Schwartz. “It’s why Comic-Con has never been bigger. It’s why there’s a show called Talking Dead that does nothing but talk about another show. Fandom is this thing that’s dominating culture these days. … I think it’s something that is a very appealing brand sensibility for advertisers.”
There’s a lot on Pop that will appeal to TV lovers, particularly Schitt’s Creek, a new original comedy series starring Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara. Schwartz also talked about the name change and where he wants to take Pop going forward.