MTV turns up volume on p’gramming

Snoop sketch, Spidey toon, street hoops show on slate

NEW YORK — Ozzy Osbourne high on nitrous oxide, ‘N Sync’s Justin Timberlake getting his house repossessed and Snoop Dogg working the drive-through window at Arby’s –those were just a few of the teasers unspooled Friday before advertisers on behalf of MTV Networks’ upcoming programming slate.

The diversity of series on offer was driven home by MTV programming prexy Brian Graden, who delivered a laundry list of the skeins on deck in his familiar rapid-fire style.

Leading the way were the Jessica Simpson reality show and Tom Green’s new talker, both unveiled earlier in the week. But Graden did offer some new material to the assemblage of high-powered media buyers as well.

From Snoop to hoops

The fresh items included an upcoming sketch comedy show starring the surprisingly funny Snoop, as well as an animated Spider-Man series and a contest show starring Earvin “Magic” Johnson that pits street basketball players from across the country against one another for a chance to win $100,000.

Also in the wings is “Surf Girls,” a reality/contest format that gives female surfers the chance to win the opportunity to compete in a professional contest. And “Duets” will let stars pick from a group of aspiring singers and record a track with the winner.

Graden said MTV has bowed no fewer than one new series every three weeks since the beginning of the year. But the new programming will follow the network’s game plan of steering away from the outrageous and toward more character development.

“Dramatic storytelling is what made our reality shows so compelling over the years,” he said at the presentation, held at Gotham’s Millennium Broadway hotel.

Diversity of voices

MTV Group topper Judy McGrath added that the family of cable nets, which includes MTV, MTV2, VH1, Country Music Television and the College Television Network, will continue to represent a range of opinions on air.

“We’ll show the (Michael Moore-directed) System of a Down video ‘Boom,’ which is quite anti-war, but we’ll also show ‘When I’m Gone’ by Three Doors Down, which has a lot of images of our troops,” she said. “I don’t really care if you’re pro-war or anti-war, as long as it’s about the moment.”

Presentation drew kudos from its intended audience — the ad buyers with whom MTV does the bulk of its business.

“I thought they did an excellent job,” said Tom DeCabia, exec VP of PHD-USA, who attended the event. “They are simply phenomenal at keeping their programming ahead of the curve. They’ve had their finger on the pulse all the way through.”

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