This article was updated at 8:06 p.m.
Anchored by projects from Cher and Chastity Bono, Alan Cumming and Margaret Cho, MTV Networks’ digital gay-themed cable network Logo unveiled its premiere development slate on the final day of the TV critics summer press tour.
MTV/VH1 entertainment president Brian Graden was joined by Logo exec consultant Matt Farber, whom Graden confirmed would be overseeing the channel’s day-to-day operations.
“Matt’s definitely running the channel operationally. I’ve just been privileged to be involved because it’s something very close to my heart,” Graden said.
No programming execs have yet been named. Eileen Opatut, former senior VP of programming and production for the Food Network, also is on board as a consultant.
Logo, designed as a digital service, is set for a February launch in 10 million-15 million homes in markets including Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta and San Francisco. Active discussions are under way for carriage on satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network.
Execs said Logo would not be an adult-oriented network featuring the kind of racier content seen on FX and HBO. Instead, its programming mix — a lineup of light reality, docs and acquired movies — was selected to make it suitable for both young and older demos.
“I think the assumption is you would have to push the standards to tell our stories, and we don’t believe that,” Graden said. “We don’t necessarily believe we would have to go as far as any of these networks to tell our stories. That’s not integral to sharing authentically a representation of the gay community.”
Farber said Logo will offer a video-on-demand service that will have choices more in line with the content of premium cablers.
Channel already has collected more than 150 movie and doc titles in partnership with several major studios (Daily Variety, May 26).
“The programming we’re developing will speak in an authentic voice to this audience,” Farber said. “We’re building this brand to reflect their diversity and tastes through an array of genres, all informed by a gay point of view.”
Among the 20 projects in development:
- “Family Outing,” from exec producers Cher and daughter Chastity Bono, recounts the coming-out stories of celebs and newsmakers.
- “The Alan Cumming Experience” stars Cumming as the emcee of a downtown cabaret act.
- An untitled series starring and produced by comedian Margaret Cho.
- “My Fabulous Gay Wedding,” hosted by Scott Thompson (“The Kids in the Hall”), documents unmarried gay couples as they plan the wedding of their dreams. Paperny Films and Duopoly produce.
- “Fantastic Voyage” is a reality skein from Bunim-Murray Prods. and Atlantis Vacations, in which several lesbian/bisexual/gay/transgender couples go on a weeklong cruise in the Caribbean. Kathy Griffin and Andre Kelly are aboard as cruise directors.
- “Twist” is a debate show with an “authentic gay twist.”
- “Do I?” from Evolution Studios follows gay and lesbian couples as they spend time with a relationship expert to determine whether they’re ready to take on the responsibility of marriage.
- A talker, hosted by celeb interviewer Dennis Hensley.
- “Chelsea Boys,” an animated series based on the syndicated gay comicstrip, centers on the trials and tribulations of three gay friends living in the big city.
Logo also is in development discussions with producing duo Craig Zadan and Neil Meron and actress-comedian Sandra Bernhard.
MTV News will produce firstrun docs for the cabler. Several gay-themed specs that have run on MTV will have secondary airings on Logo.
Upcoming Logo originals include “Going for the Gold,” about the athletes training for the 2006 Gay Games; “Rodeo Circuit,” about the gay rodeo phenomenon; “Gay Cops,” about the lives of several New York police officers; and “A Boy Named Sue,” which chronicles the pre- and post-operative process of a transgender man.
Logo also has partnered on projects with its Viacom siblings. CBS News and MTV News will help launch a newsmag with contributions from the Advocate; TV Land will co-produce a spec about gay influence and presence in TV; VH1 will co-produce “The Big Gay 100” countdown; and Out Traveler magazine is teaming with the cabler on a travel show.
In addition, Logo will telecast the GLAAD Media Awards in the kudofest’s first TV airing.
Acquisition deals for TV titles will be announced in the coming weeks, Graden said.
Elsewhere in Viacom’s stable of cable nets:
Nick at Nite is adding another series to its originals stable. “Nick at Nite’s Family Face-Off: Hollywood” will pit six families against one another to compete in a variety of showbiz-related tasks — including begging for autographs and stopping celebs for photo ops — to win a family vacation. Six hours have been ordered for a November debut.
TV Land, meanwhile, picked up the half-hour “Alf’s Hit Talk Show” to series and will celebrate the 35th anni of “The Brady Bunch” with a cast reunion special and 48-hour marathon. Cabler also ordered the specials “TV Land Presents: Emmy’s Greatest Moments” and the multipart countdown “TV Guide and TV Land Present: The 100 Most Memorable TV Moments.” Spec will air Dec 6.
And Nickelodeon will pull the plug on itself for three hours on Oct. 2, Worldwide Day of Play, to encourage kids to go out and play. Channel has never gone off the air before.