Cablers ramp up 19 original skeins
HOLLYWOOD — E! Networks has unveiled 19 series in development at both E! Entertainment Television and sister cabler Style.
Projects, most of which will air as pilots during the third and fourth quarters, are the first slates to premiere under senior veep of programming development Lisa Berger, who joined the nets in September.
Exec has already greenlit the summer series “Dr. 90210” and “Scream Play,” from “Fear Factor” exec producers Joel Klein and David Hurwitz (Daily Variety, March 24). Matt Iseman (“The Drew Carey Show”) has signed on to host the latter.
Slate at E! reflects channel’s attempts to get younger with more pop culture and fan-focused programming. Pipeline is filled with a variety of genres new to the net including reality relationship skeins and gameshows targeted to the advertiser-friendly crowd of 18- to 34-year-olds.
But with VH1 and Bravo becoming major players in the entertainment/pop culture space, E! won’t be abandoning its signature bio series anytime soon, according to E! Networks chief Mindy Herman.
“This is the most aggressive and adventurous slate we’ve ever embarked on. We needed to step up with the heightened competition,” she said. “But we’ll continue to mine our sweet spot of clip-driven documentary-style programming.”
Berger told Daily Variety that most of the projects would air as part of E!’s Sunday night lineup, which is anchored by fresh episodes of cabler mainstay “True Hollywood Story.” Decisions are pending on whether some of the programs will premiere as one-shot specials or multipart specs or go to series.
Berger said that while most of the projects would likely end up as short-order skein, her long-term goal is to find the next “THS.” “My goal is to create fresh franchises for the network,” she asserted.
E! and Style have five to six primetime series slots available each.
Some of the programming set to augment E!’s celeb-driven biography fare include a week-in-review program, a “Bachelor”-type show populated by young women eyeing a chance to date a leading entertainment mogul, and a “Project Greenlight”-style contest series for aspiring reality TV producers.
Shows in development are the relationship skeins “Trophy Wife” and “The Actress,” the produce-your-own-reality-show competition “Challenge Reality” and the weekly wrap-up kudofest ” ‘What the …?’ Awards.”
Other formats in the hopper include a celebrity trivia gameshow and additional profile series.
Over at Style, programming topper Stephen Schwartz has announced nine series that complete channel’s transition from fashionista-oriented programming to broader-appeal lifestyle and makeover shows. Style is currently in 36 million homes and will be in 50 million by next year.
Among the shows highlighted were “Diary of …,” in which ordinary women tell their stories; the docu soaps “Uptown Salon” and “Work It Out!,” which take place in a beauty parlor and gym, respectively; and “The Hotspot,” which chronicles the $15 million renovation of Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel.
Also highlighted: the relationship show “Ultimatum,” the travel series “Destination Unknown,” the room makeover program “Room for One More” and “Wedding Altered.”