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Taking on the big boys.

The long-running cable vs. broadcast war will escalate again this week, as TNT and TBS boldly go where no cabler has gone before--mounting an upfront presentation for Madison Avenue the same week as the Big Four networks.

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For the Turner cablers, the decision to hold their May 14 event at the Hammerstein Ballroom is a symbolic way of reinforcing their vow to eliminate the last big competitive advantage that broadcasters have over cable, namely the volume of original programming served up in primetime.

TNT, which marks its 20th anni in October; is on a development binge, with the goal of programming all original fare in primetime Monday-Wednesday by 2010.

The pitches to advertisers this week will be "Start thinking of us as one of the big boys" and "Please stop discounting out" advertising rates just because we're cable."

The major cablers have traditionally held their upfronts weeks before the broadcasters, to ensure they got as much attention as possible from media buyers. Turner's move, spearheaded by Turner Entertainment Networks prexy Steve Koonin, is meant to assert that the drama-centric TNT matters as much as ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox.

TNT, which has scored with femme gumshoe skeins "The Closer" and "Saving Grace," will add two more originals to its slate this year, Steven Bochco's legal ensemble "Raising the Bar" and Dean Devlin's actioner "Leverage." Another series is on deck for next year, "Truth in Advertising," starring Eric McCormack and Tom Cavanagh. Team TNT also has high hopes for pilot "Men of a Certain Age," to star Ray Romano.

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Title Annotation:Turner Network Television
Author:Littleton, Cynthia
Publication:Variety
Article Type:Brief article
Date:May 12, 2008
Words:260
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