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Article

'Cougar Town' campaigns for viewers

Show’s creator tries unorthodox methods (cocktail parties for fans, anyone?) to boost ratings before its delayed third season

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Not every show on network TV plans and executes its own marketing strategy, but then, not every show is Cougar Town. ABC’s adults-only comedy, which stars Courteney Cox and Josh Hopkins, averaged 7.5 million viewers in its second season and is critically beloved, but ABC decided to schedule the polarizing new cross-dressing sitcom Work It this month and postpone Cougar Town for later this spring. That didn’t sit well with co-creator Bill Lawrence, who learned a thing or two about waiting on the sidelines as creator of NBC’s Scrubs. ”Scrubs was a midseason show 20 times,” says Lawrence, talking to EW exclusively from the Jan. 6 screening event held on the Cougar Town set for 150 fans. ”I used to play good soldier and hide. This is the first time I thought, There might be some real value to being annoyed.” After tweeting his displeasure with ABC, Lawrence and co-creator Kevin Biegel got to work planning cocktail parties across the country for Cougar Town‘s rabid fans. In exchange for footing the bar tab and screening two episodes from the new season, the writers are asking fans to spread their love of the show to the uninitiated. ”It’s an experiment,” Lawrence admits of the various soirees held in cities like Atlanta, Chicago, and Sarasota, Fla. More are planned for Austin, Las Vegas, Boston, and even London. ”If we can move the dial even two-tenths of a point, it will be something that changes the way people market their shows. If we can get 2.5 million people to use social media, it’s on for seven years.” Lawrence even has a plan for that day — if and when it should occur. ”If it does work, the show survives, and ABC makes a lot of money, this is the only time in my life that I ever kept the receipts. I will turn them in and ask them to split it with me.”