WE adds pix, originals

Cabler's programming budget up $12 mil from last year

NEW YORK — Chuck Dolan’s WE: Women’s Entertainment has bought “Between Strangers,” starring Sophia Loren and Mira Sorvino, as a U.S. TV premiere, and has commissioned “The Tinsley Bumble Show,” a comedy set in New York, as its first scripted series.

WE has increased its sub base from 25 million to 52 million in the last few years, upping its cable operator fees to more than $60 million a year. WE is also racking up more than $10 million a year in ad revenue since it started accepting spots in 2001.

On the strength of this income, WE plans to commission two original movies this year and has announced a batch of other series, all reality-based, to go with “Bumble,” plus 10 specials. The Loren movie, directed by her son Edoardo Ponti, comes from Overseas Film Group. WE declined to identify the two other movies.

The reality series include “Bridezilla,” dealing with perfectionists in the days preceding their wedding; “Diva Detectives,” about an all-female private-eye agency in Las Vegas; and a continuation of the “Single in …” specials, with new ones taking place in Las Vegas and South Beach, Fla.

The specials will deal with such subjects as women’s sex fantasies, summer travel destinations, fashion trends and home design.

All of these originals will push WE’s annual programming budget from $48 million in 2002 to $60 million this year, according to Kagan World Media.

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