Series to feature past and new perfs, interviews

A 13-episode series dedicated to doo-wop music heads a joint development slate of Rhino Entertainment and WQED Pittsburgh, the PBS station that made pledge-drive history with the “Doo Wop 50″ concert special.

The series of hourlong shows will feature historical and newly recorded live performances as well as interviews. Program will also include classic R&B performers.

The “Doo Wop 50″ show proved that “PBS viewers are interested in this music,” Rhino senior VP of marketing Garson Foos said. “We’re optimistic that we can keep the audience and not just with a sporadic pledge show.”

WQED and Rhino joined forces last year to bring “Doo Wop 50″ to PBS, which became the highest-producing pledge special in the history of the pubcaster, garnering more than $20 million for member stations.

Among the other projects in development are the following:

  • “Doo Wop Spirituals,” a special covering religious-themed doo-wop music;

  • a rhythm & blues special and a reunion show featuring new performances by early rock legends as well as archival footage;

  • and “Doo Wop Dreams,” an in-studio performance program pairing original doo-wop groups with contemporary artists. Foos said the “Doo Wop” team is deep in negotiations with an executive producer who will be able to bring in A-list talent. The intended result would be a special as well as an album.

Financially, the deal is structured as a split among PBS, Rhino and, eventually, corporate sponsors and foreign broadcasters. Rhino will own homevideo rights.

WQED, home of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” and Rhino have recently completed separate doo-wop projects: Warners-owned Rhino has released the third installment of its “Doo Wop Box” this summer and WQED has readied “Doo Wop 51″ for December airdates. The concert features doo-wop groups such as the Orioles, the Diamonds, Edsels, Cadets and the Teenagers as well as early rock vocal groups the Chiffons, Hank Ballard & the Midnighters and Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs.

“This collaboration,” said T.J. Lubinsky, creator and producer of both “Doo Wop” specials, “will open doors to attracting, developing and sustaining long-term relationships with new contributors, as well as PBS members.”

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