Media Buyers Weigh the Odds for New Fox Show

Fox’s controversial Greg the Bunny, set to premiere on March 27, may be the season’s most daring new sitcom. Advance screener tapes have been making the rounds at ad agencies, and media buyers say Greg is approaching water-cooler status.

“As someone who sees a lot of TV and gets jaded by the typical generic product, you’ve gotta love this show for the fact that it’s so crazy, and so ridiculous, and so unlike other shows,” said Kris Magel, national broadcast director for Optimedia International.

But pointing to Fox’s failed 1999 offbeat comedy Action, Magel added that Greg’s inventiveness might also be its greatest liability. “You always hope something like this takes off and develops a cult following, but that usually doesn’t happen,” he said.

The series is a surreal—and often silly—cross between Sesame Street and HBO’s The Larry Sanders Show. It goes behind the scenes of a children’s cable TV program, drawing back the curtain on a world in which TV puppets live lives as three-dimensional as humans.

Eugene Levy, of American Pie fame, plays the kiddie show’s slimy director. But the series’ true stars are its puppets, whether they are speaking sexually charged dialogue or just being goofy.

Greg’s origins already lend the show cult credibility. The character made his screen debut on a 1997 New York City cable-access program called Junktape that was created by New York University undergrads Spencer Chinoy and Dan Milano. In 1999, cable’s Independent Film Channel signed the pair for a series of Greg film shorts. That led to the development of the Fox series.

Puppets notwithstanding, Greg clearly is not for kids. “We purposely didn’t put it on at 8 or 8:30,” said Pres ton Beckman, the network’s evp of strategic program planning. Beckman dismissed concerns that Greg may be too outrageous for many viewers. “It’s so hard to break out and get people’s attention,” he said. “This show will.”