Tune nets eye Liza, locals

New shows aim to duplicate success of Ozzy & co.

Liza Minnelli and Bakersfield may be worlds apart, but they’re both in line to become TV subjects within the Viacom cable family, on VHI and MTV, respectively. VH1, whose new management is eager to crack a hit like “The Osbournes” on sister net MTV, confirmed Tuesday that it is in discussions with Minnelli and new husband David Gest to explore their private lives in a small-screen reality skein.

MTV, meanwhile, is going to Bakersfield for one of its next reality series.

The cabler has ordered six new verite-style series to debut this year and next, including “FM Nation,” which documents weekend nights in America by riding in cars with teens from such towns as Bakersfield.

Somewhat of a departure from MTV’s typical parade of the young and the beautiful, “FM Nation” is what MTV and VH1 entertainment prexy Brian Graden describes as “low-gloss Americana.”

“We cast as much normalcy as we could find,” Graden said.

Each half-hour episode of “FM Nation,” exec produced by Brad Kuhlman, features three groups of kids riding along with the radio blaring and their car rigged with cameras. A different local radio station and DJ serve as background and narrator each week. Eight episodes are on tap for the fourth quarter of this year.

Most of the shows in the new group of greenlighted shows will air at 10:30 p.m. weeknights.

Graden said he already has more working and returning programs for the 10 o’clock kickoff of MTV’s branded “10 Spot” than he’s ever had, hence the 10:30 start for much of the new fare. The strength of the 10 p.m. fare means this will be the last group of greenlights for awhile, he said.

In addition to “FM Nation,” MTV has ordered:

  • “mtvTREATMENT,” an hourlong show during which the network and the band Korn conduct a search for a first-time video director to make a musicvideo for the group. The series of specs documenting the search and selection process, as well as the production and preem of the vid, is scheduled for fourth quarter.

  • A series of hourlong specs aimed at the fourth quarter, “artistLAUNCH” documents the making of an album from writing and recording to promoting and releasing. Specs will be timed to album release dates.

  • “Crashing With …,” a series of specs for second quarter next year, is what happens when a touring band or artist stays the night with locals.

  • “Made,” six half-hours to preem first quarter next year, documents the transformation of a person who desperately wants to change his or her ways. Each subject will be followed for several months to capture their “full-life makeover.”

  • “Suspect: True Crime Stories” is skedded for fourth quarter of this year and utilizes forensic experts to help figure out such heinous crimes as why a fridge becomes suddenly and mysteriously empty.

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