The show averaged 3.4 million viewers – which isn’t bad, but it’s less than Perry’s two previous sitcom debuts. “House of Payne” brought in 5.2 million viewers and “Meet the Browns” opened to 4.2 mil.
If you haven’t seen it, “For Better or Worse” is a spin-off of the “Why Did I Get Married?” flicks. It centers on beauty parlor owner Angela Williams (Tasha Smith) and her complex relationship with her husband Marcus (Michael Jai White) and his business partner.
TBS will give the show at least 10 airings before deciding if it will ask for more episodes.
*TV One’s “Love That Girl” returned this week for its third season with Tatyana Ali as that girl, a young divorcee who returns to southern California while trying to figure out her next move.
The show is among a healthy crop of African American sitcoms that have found a warm embrace on cable. In fact, viewers set a cable ratings record for the premiere of former WB series “The Game” when it premiered on BET last year. The network’s newest offering, “Reed Between the Lines,” is already building a loyal fan base, while TBS has no complaints about its Tyler Perry one-two punch of “House of Payne” and “Meet the Browns.”
Just as cable has become the hotspot for black sitcoms, the big broadcast channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and The WB) have just stopped trying altogether. Ali, who plays Tyana Jones in “Love That Girl!” says she doesn’t know why the major networks have practiced black flight, but she believes she knows why cable has picked up the slack.
“It’s because people want to see them. People want to laugh, and they want to have that feeling that, people had with “Fresh Prince,” she says of her first sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. “I still get it, even though it’s been so many years ago. People really felt like we were a part of their lives and a part of their families, like they were growing up with us. People want to feel good and laugh.”
Tatyana Ali and Jaleel White in scene from TV One's "Love That Girl!'
As for “Love That Girl!” which featured another black sitcom veteran, Jaleel White, in Monday’s season premiere, Ali says it’s “wonderful” that TV One has taken a chance on the sitcom genre.
“I started working with them doing ‘TV One Access’ a few years ago and being their first show is just – it’s really amazing. But, yeah, I think they’re feeding an audience that’s underserved.”
In the bonus audio below, “Love That Girl!” creator and executive producer Bentley Kyle Evans says cable networks – and specifically TV One – are more willing than the majors to fall back and trust that the show runners know what they’re doing.
*Actor/director/screenwriter/producer/author Tyler Perry, whose films have grossed more than $500 million worldwide, sits alone atop a new Forbes list of the highest-paid men in entertainment, beating out such contenders as Simon Cowell, Jerry Bruckheimer and Leonardo DiCaprio.
From May 2010 to May 2011, Perry raked in $130 million from a number of ventures, including his TV shows, “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne,” as well as his variety of Madea films and DVDs and his upcoming feature film role as the detective in “I, Alex Cross.”
Just behind Perry is producer Bruckheimer at $113 million, which comes from his take for the $1 billion-grossing fourth installment of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, as well as his hand in producing a number of hit TV shows, including “The Amazing Race” and the “CSI” franchise.
Spielberg is third with $107 million, earned in part from his upcoming pair of big-budget films, “War Horse” and “The Adventures of Tintin.” Fourth is the only musician on the list, Elton John ($100 million), whose riches come from his back catalog and a world tour that grossed $204 million.
“X Factor” judge/creator Simon Cowell rounds out the top five with $90 million.
Also in the top 10: author James Patterson ($84 million), TV host Dr. Phil McGraw ($80 million), DiCaprio ($77 million), satellite radio titan Howard Stern ($76 million) and golfer Tiger Woods ($75 million).
Actress China Anne McClain attends the Fifth Annual Kidstock Music and Arts Festival at Greystone Mansion on June 5, 2011 in Beverly Hills.
*Tyler Perry fans already know about China Anne McClain, the 12-year-old actress-singer who starred alongside her older sisters in the director’s “Daddy’s Little Girls” and as Jazmine Payne on his TBS series “House of Payne.”
The Disney Channel caught wind of the budding star in 2009, and promptly got her feet wet as a guest star on “Hannah Montana.”
Three “Jonas” episodes and two “Wizards of Waverly Place” broadcasts later, Disney has rewarded China with a series of her very own.
“A.N.T. Farm,” which premiered last week and airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m., stars McClain as musical prodigy Chyna Parks. At the tender age of 11, she and some other gifted students her age enroll in the specialized A.N.T. Program at their local high school – and must quickly learn to fend for themselves.
“A.N.T. stands for Advanced Natural Talents, and all these kids are very advanced in whatever – art, mathematics,” McClain tells EUR. “It’s at a high school, so they really don’t want us there. So we have to maneuver our way through and get out safely.”
China McClain from A.N.T. Farm – Season 1 – “Pilot”
As for her character, “She’s very confident, she doesn’t care about what all the high schoolers say about her, and she’s going to make the best of her high school experience,” says China. [Scroll down to watch a show promo.]
The daughter of record producer Michael McClain, China says she lucked out in landing a series that will allow her to flex both her acting and musical talents. In fact, China and her two sisters, Lauryn and Sierra McClain, have a record deal with Hollywood Records – the official label for Disney stars who also sing – like Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and the Jonas Bros.
“I’m really excited,” she says. “We’re going to [record] the “A.N.T. Farm” stuff and then keep me and my sisters’ stuff separately.”
In the audio bonus below, China explains how she and her sisters snuck up on a music career.
*Tyler Perry is bringing another television series to TBS.
As previously reported, the multi-hyphenate has signed his latest deal with the Turner-owned network for “For Better or Worse,” a dramedy series based on his successful “Why Did I Get Married?” movie franchise.
Michael Jai White (The Dark Knight) and Tasha Smith (Couples Retreat) are confirmed to reprise their roles as television anchor Marcus and salon owner Angela, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Like Perry’s past TBS projects, “House of Payne” and “Meet the Browns,” the young adult-focused series will roll out with 10 episodes. If the latter reaches a certain ratings threshold during its initial run, the network will order 90 more.
“Tyler Perry’s series have been tremendously successful for TBS, helping establish the network as a prime destination for African-American viewers,” said Michael Wright, executive vice president, head of programming, for TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies. “Given such a remarkable track record, we’re excited for the opportunity to expand our relationship with Tyler Perry and Debmar-Mercury with the new series For Better or Worse.”
The series, which like Perry’s other two will be syndicated by Debmar Mercury, will begin production this summer, just as Perry wraps production on “Payne” after a staggering 222 episodes.
“Even though it will be sad to say goodbye to ‘House of Payne,’ I’m really looking forward to exploring new territory with ‘For Better or Worse,’” said Perry. “Working on ‘House of Payne’ taught me a lot about what it takes to make a successful television series and I’m looking forward to applying that experience to ‘For Better or Worse.’”
For the first quarter of 2011, “House of Payne” and “Meet the Browns” ranked among television’s top five primetime sitcoms with African-American adults 18-34 and 18-49.