This was a subtle contrast to last year when the company also highlighted scripted fare and trotted out a parade of celebrities including Mariel Hemingway, Morgan Freeman, William Hurt, LaToya Jackson, and NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon. Filmmaker Ron Howard was perhaps the biggest new name showing up this year: He told Discovery advertisers that New Form — the online content production venture he and Brian Grazer are launching with the pay TV company — expects to “generate great scripted programming for today’s digital viewers.” They’re already weighing “several series” as they delve into “shortform content and all its possibilities.” Howard also intends to encourage other creative types to “bring their talent to New Form.” Oprah Winfrey returned, of course, to promote OWN. With its recent ratings success, “no one is happier than we are right now about what is happening to OWN.” She says the network is heading toward its “next evolution” with its first original scripted movie with Toni Braxton playing legendary studio singer Darlene Love, the focus of the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom. She also brought out Tyler Perry for a second year; he talked up his soap opera The Haves And The Have Nots.
Related: Discovery Channel Unveils New Slate
For the most part the presentation featured stars of its upcoming shows, unveiled today, including Honey Boo Boo, “Long Island Medium” Theresa Caputo, the “Psychic Matchmaker,” former King Of Queens star Leah Remini, Roseanne Barr, and Jack Wagner. CEO David Zaslav appeared in filmed sequences in which he boasted that the company’s “best days are still ahead.” Advertising Sales President Joe Abruzzese took the stage to say that Discovery seeks the “most authentic characters, [and] most original stories and we tell them in the most compelling ways.” He also touted Discovery’s willingness to integrate marketing messages in its programming. “We make our talent your talent,” he says. Daredevil Nik Wallenda said he’s taking his next walk in Chicago and promised “a twist.”
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