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Bravo gets bolder

New slate includes 'Rewind,' Hayes' 'underExposed'

“Will & Grace” star Sean Hayes has come out of the TV producing closet.

Hayes has developed and produced the series pilot “underExposed” for NBC-owned cabler Bravo. Project pits aspiring filmmakers against each other as they race to shoot a four-minute short from the same script.

Each filmmaker will receive a $10,000 budget to shoot their films in small towns.

“underExposed” was one in a slew of new projects announced Tuesday at Bravo’s portion of the Television Critics Assn. press tour. The cabler says it intends to dramatically increase its original programming output.

“Our new pilots push the concept that we’re willing to be independent and experimental, to challenge and entertain our viewers,” said Jeff Gaspin, who oversees the network for NBC.

Other projects include:

  • “But I Played One on TV,” which will feature real actors performing the job their characters did on television.

  • A twist on the traditional celeb biography, “Rewind,” which will profile a celeb per episode in reverse chronological order.

  • And nearly completed, net’s second gameshow, “Ready, Set, Van Gogh!” which is “an extreme arts” competition featuring chainsaw tree-carving and beach sand sculpture.

“We’re trying to shift our focus to development and original programming,” senior VP of programming and production Frances Berwick. “In the past, Bravo was more about acquiring movies and shows. Now we’re really trying to dig in and develop our own.”

Bravo has also picked up repurposed rights to the NBC drama “The West Wing,” set to roll out Aug. 11. Debut will be preceded by a six-seg marathon on Aug. 10. Skein will air Monday through Thursday at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.

“Synergy is not always a dirty word,” Gaspin said. ” ‘The West Wing’ is one of the most upscale dramas on TV, and Bravo is an upscale channel that wants an upscale audience.”

With the cabler about to roll out its gay-themed skeins “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and “Boy Meets Boy,” Gaspin said he didn’t expect any viewer backlash.

“Boy” begins with a “Bachelor”-style setup, but the likely controversy stems from the gimmick: Not all the potential mates are actually gay.

“NBC has always been supportive of gay-themed shows like ‘Will & Grace’ and ‘The Matthew Shephard Story,’ ” he said. “You’d hope and expect that this country has more tolerance. I believe it’ll actually break some stereotypes.”

“Bravo has a highly educated, somewhat more liberal audience that expects to be surprised and challenged,” Berwick told Daily Variety.

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