Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.

October 23, 2006 11:50 ET

TBS Provides Perfect Study Break with Part-Scripted/Part-Improvised Late-Night Comedy Series 10 ITEMS OR LESS

MEDIA ADVISORY--(Collegiate Presswire - October 23, 2006) - As the semester enters its final few weeks and college students everywhere are hitting the books in preparation for final exams, TBS is giving them the perfect study break in the form of the new late-night comedy series 10 ITEMS OR LESS. Combining scripted and improvisational elements, the series goes behind the scenes at a family-owned grocery store being run by a host of interesting characters. It's a perfect late-night remedy for the study-weary college set, especially those who have spent their summers working menial jobs like bagging groceries or stacking produce. So TBS is making preview screeners and interview opportunities available to college newspapers.

10 ITEMS OR LESS stars acclaimed comedy improv actor John Lehr ("Memron"), who also co-created the series, and premieres Monday, Nov. 27, at 11 p.m. (ET/PT) as the first in a slate of late-night comedy series being developed by the network. In the show, Lehr plays Leslie Pool, who returns to his native Ohio to run the Greens & Grains grocery store he has just inherited from his father.

Seeking to undermine Greens & Grains is Leslie's arch nemesis, Amy, who manages the Super Value Mart down the street. She is played with comic relish by Jennifer Elise Cox, who made her mark playing Jan Brady to perfection in "The Brady Bunch Movie" and its sequel.

The somewhat dysfunctional staff at the Greens & Grains includes Carl (Robert Clendenin - "That '70s Show"), the sweet, doofus stockboy who serves as Leslie's sidekick; Yolanda (Roberta Valderrama - "ER"), the sharp-tongued dominant force in the produce department; Buck (Greg Davis Jr. - "The King of California"), the bagger who is looking towards the future by attending night school; Ingrid (Kirsten Gronfield - "Steve Saves L.A."), the quirky, soft-spoken customer service representative who lives for Renaissance festivals; Richard (Christopher Liam Moore - "Judging Amy"), the dignified cashier who dreams of becoming a professional ice dancer; and Todd (Chris Payne Gilbert - "The Broken Hearts Club"), the sexy butcher who hopes to one day to be a stock car driver.

While there have been shows that utilized improvisation before, 10 ITEMS OR LESS is somewhat unique, as executive producer Robert Hickey explains, "10 ITEMS OR LESS is an improv show, but what is different about this series is that it is long-form improv. It is a combination of strong stories with true spontaneous improvisation. We are pushing comedy in a different direction."

The improvisational aspect of 10 ITEMS OR LESS lends itself to a unique production plan. As Lehr explains, "Robert, Nancy and I write detailed outlines for each show, but we don't show the script to the actors. The actors get the situations, but no lines. Oddly, because the show is improvised, the three of us have to write more. If an actor takes the show in a new direction, we have to be flexible and adjust the show accordingly."

"By taking away the script while we shoot, the actors are better able to go down roads that are off the beaten comedy path," says Hower. "Often, each take will be completely different with completely different jokes. It makes for more choices in editing and, we believe, more out-of-the-box comedy."

In addition to the show's talented cast of improvisational actors, 10 ITEMS OR LESS also features some unexpected cast members, by virtue of the fact that the series is shot in a real, working grocery store. "The store is open for business," says Lehr, "so actual customers are shopping around us as we shoot. We're all dressed in uniform, so people are asking us where certain products are shelved. Often this stuff gets into the show."

10 ITEMS OR LESS comes to TBS from Sony Pictures Television, with Lehr, Robert Hickey and Nancy Hower serving as executive producers.

Sony Pictures Television is one of the television industry's leading content providers. SPT produces and distributes top-rated, award-winning programming in every genre, including series, movies and family entertainment for network and cable television; first-run syndicated series; off-network syndicated programs; and theatrical releases. SPT (www.sonypicturestelevision.com) is a Sony Pictures Entertainment company.

TBS, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., is television's "very funny" network. It serves as home to such hot contemporary comedies as "Sex and the City", "Everybody Loves Raymond", "Family Guy", "Seinfeld" and "Friends"; original comedy series, like the upcoming scripted comedies "My Boys" and "10 Items or Less"; specials and special events, like "The Comedy Festival" in Las Vegas, for which TBS serves as title sponsor; blockbuster movies; and hosted movie showcases.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, is a major producer of news and entertainment product around the world and the leading provider of programming to the basic cable industry.

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