News of the deal was first reported by Deadline.
SAG-AFTRA is closely monitoring the situation. The union will need to ensure that the production company is properly signed to the appropriate basic cable agreement, which provides the same protections as those set forth in the CBA for television, a spokesperson told Back Stage. “We may possibly need to consult with series regulars or their representatives to ensure that existing PSAs are not violated by the potential move over.”
The episodes already produced for the network would fall under the network residuals structure. Reruns of those programs on network pay each performer 100 percent of total actual compensation per rerun, with a cap of $2,428 per rerun. If these made-for-network episodes move to basic cable they would pay the cast 6 percent of the distributor’s gross receipts plus health and retirement contributions.
The new episodes produced for TBS would pay residuals pursuant to the basic cable agreement. Namely, basic cable runs would pay 17 percent of total applicable minimum for the second run, 12 percent for the third run, 11 percent for the fourth run, 10 percent for the fifth run, 6 percent for the sixth run, 4 percent each for the seventh and eighth runs, 3.5 percent each for the ninth and tenth runs, 3 percent for the eleventh run, 2.5 percent for the twelfth run, and 1.5 percent for each run thereafter. Total applicable minimum for a day performer is currently $855, and for a weekly performer is $2,964. Minimum wages and working conditions would be the same, according to SAG-AFTRA.
Bill Lawrence, the show's executive producer, writer and director, has experience with this type of transition. Lawrence and Kevin Biegel, a writer and producer on "Cougar Town," previously shifted "Scrubs" from NBC to ABC following its cancelation by the Peacock Network in 2008.
"Cougar Town" isn’t the first network show to find new life on a Turner station. NBC's "Southland" was picked up by TNT after it was canceled three years ago. The cop drama, which is produced by John Wells, was recently renewed for a fifth season by Turner.
Network switches aren't any guarantee of renewed success. In 2005, according to TheWrap, the cable net Syfy bought the 14 episodes of the space western "Firefly" from Fox TV. New episodes weren't ordered, though, because the show never took off.
"Cougar Town" is in a different predicament. The half-hour sitcom is edging toward potential syndication having returned for a third season in February. But it was bumped from the coveted Wednesday night slot following the hit "Modern Family," and couldn't maintain its audience.
The show, which stars Courteney Cox and features a strong supporting cast, has been posting its lowest ratings since it premiered in 2009. About 5 million viewers have followed it to its Tuesday night timeslot - half the audience it had in the first two seasons.
According to Deadline, the TBS deal could extend to two, 15-episode seasons, giving the beloved show enough episodes for syndication.