Showtime docs on deck

Greenblatt betting on recent B.O. appeal of non-fiction

Looking to ramp up its slate of documentaries, Showtime has created “Sho Exposure,” a programming initiative that will unspool a new documentary on the cabler each month.

Showtime entertainment prexy Robert Greenblatt said the pay web is betting on the recent box office heft of such docs as “Bowling for Columbine” to draw viewers and attract new subscribers.

“There seems to be a real appetite for documentaries today. Before, ‘documentary’ used to be a dirty word for ‘educational’ or something you’d only see on PBS,” Greenblatt told Daily Variety. “With all the press and excitement I’ve been seeing for films like ‘Bowling for Columbine,’ I think now is the perfect time for this kind of programming push.”

First pic to debut under the new banner, “Orson Welles: The One Man Band,” will premiere Oct. 14.

Other acquired docs in the “Sho Exposure” lineup include “Mayor of Sunset Strip,” “James Ellroy’s Feast of Death,” “Standing in the Shadows of Motown,” “Step into Liquid” and “Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy.”

Greenblatt noted that “Sho Exposure” also gives the channel a launching pad for its growing number of original docs, including “Trust Me,” about a post-9/11 interfaith experiment among Christian, Muslim and Jewish boys at a summer camp. Cabler has also produced a pair of original docs from Josh Aronson (“Sound and Fury”) titled “The Opposite Sex,” about an individual’s transition before and after a sex-change operation.

Unlike Showtime’s low-budget filmmaking entity 6 Figure Films, which looks to make six to eight pics per year, the cabler will produce original docs on a case-by-case basis.

Channel’s stepped-up move into docs arrives on the heels of recent success in the reality arena. Docu-style reality series “Freshman Diaries” and “Family Business” continue to do well for the net. In addition, docs “Searching for Debra Winger” and “The Boys of 2nd Street Park” both bowed to solid ratings this year.

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