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Kelsey Grammer backs new conservative TV network

Kelsey Grammer is the front man in the RightNetwork, a new politically conservative TV network. First programs include 'Right2Laugh,' featuring stand up comedians, and 'Running' about Tea Party-backed candidates running for office. See the Kelsey Grammer pitch video below.

By David BauderAssociated Press / September 9, 2010

Actor Kelsey Grammer is backing the RightNetwork, a new TV network designed to appeal to political conservatives.

Reed Saxon/AP/FILE

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New York

Kelsey Grammer is an investor and public face supporting a new network that launched Wednesday with entertainment designed to appeal to political conservatives.

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RightNetwork, whose first series, "Running," follows the fortunes of a couple of Tea Party-backed candidates for public office, is also trying a new model to establish itself. It is initially making programming available through video-on-demand services, the Internet and through mobile phones, bypassing the route of traditional TV networks with a spot on channel lineups.

Investors hope that the support of a conservative audience that has made Fox News Channel and radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh successful could also work for entertainment programming, said Kevin McFeeley, RightNetwork's president.

"We feel the precedent has been set," he said.

Kelsey Grammer, the Emmy-winning star of "Frasier," said the network represented a desire by him and some political friends "to stop allowing people who hate us to define us."

"If you have NBC, ABC, you have entire networks flooded with a very particular point of view," Grammer said. "They won't admit it, but it's clearly the way it is. There's plenty of room for us."

The network launch comes as the midterm elections are getting into full swing.

Initial programming also includes "Right2Laugh," with standup comedians Evan Sayet, Kivi Rogers and Adam Yenser; "Politics and Poker," with card players sitting around talking politics; and "Leftovers," with Yenser hosting a "lighthearted look" at current news and entertainment. New episodes are made available every couple of weeks, McFeeley said. Some of the candidates featured in "Running" have already lost primary bids.

In the works is a sitcom called "Moving Numbers," about quirky political consultants trying to elect a candidate to the U.S. Senate. McFeeley said the RightNetwork will also offer some vintage programming, such as old episodes of William F. Buckley's "Firing Line" and Milton Friedman's "Uncommon Knowledge."

"We're not out to vilify or accuse or identify anybody as an enemy," Grammer said. "We're out there to encourage people to open their minds and take a look at some things that we as a group of people believe is the right direction for the country."

Jeff Cohen, an Ithaca College journalism professor and liberal activist, questioned whether the kind of audience that likes conservative talk shows want something similar in entertainment, and whether it can be pulled off.