Net takes to reality: ABC dates 'Bachelor'

MTV may soon tune up “Making the Band,” while ABC is planning to engage a couple.

With the Alphabet opting against a third season of the boy band reality sudser, Bunim-Murray Prods. and the music cabler are finalizing a plan to produce a third season of the show for MTV. Series would continue to focus on O-Town, the pop group created specifically for the show by pop architect Lou Pearlman.

Separately, ABC Thursday announced plans for “The Bachelor,” a six-episode reality skein in which an eligible man is hooked up with dozens of women in an attempt to find him a wife.

As for “Band,” series exec producer Jon Murray said he hasn’t heard any final word from MTV execs about a pickup, but that such a deal would be “a natural.” MTV and the William Morris-repped Bunim-Murray are both producers of the show, and MTV has aired several weekend marathons of “Making the Band.”

“We would love to do it,” Murray said. “The show was very successful with viewers 12-24, and that’s MTV’s target audience. It’s a natural idea that it would come over to MTV.”

Murray wouldn’t talk specifics about the conversations with MTV, but industry insiders said the main potential barrier to a deal would be the cost of the series. MTV, like most cablers, spends far less on programming than networks.

Even though “Band” costs less to make than a typical network sitcom or drama, it’s still more costly than most MTV fare. Nonetheless, insiders believe it would be possible to produce “Band” at an acceptable cost to MTV.

After two solid singles, O-Town exploded on the charts this summer with its song “All or Nothing.” Tune peaked at No. 3 on the Soundscan chart and still ranks in the top 20 after 15 weeks. It also finished in the top 10 on MTV’s “Total Request Live” summer countdown.

MTV execs declined repeated requests for comment.

Meanwhile, ABC has begun a contestant search for “The Bachelor,” which is being produced by Next Entertainment in association with Telepictures Prods.

Skein will have one man narrow down a large pool of single femmes to just 15 bachelorettes. He’ll meet and date the women, reducing the pack to 10, then five women and ultimately one women who he’ll ask to marry him.

Femmes, however, are under no obligation to marry the man.

“The Bachelor” is slated to bow sometime during the 2001-02 season.

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