E! is spinning off top-rated originals “True Hollywood Story” and “Dr. 90210.”
In addition, beginning March 14, cabler will employ a lineup similar to MTV’s 10-spot that promises new originals at 10, five nights a week.
“Dr. 90210” will continue to air Monday nights, followed by “Gastineau Girls” on Tuesdays, new celeb autobiography series “My Crazy Life” on Wednesdays, poker show “E! Hollywood Hold ‘Em” on Thursdays and “The Soup” on Fridays.
“We need some anchors that viewers can depend on, so it’s not this grocery list of shows they may or may not have already seen,” E! prexy-CEO Ted Harbert said.
Since his arrival last summer, Harbert has been brainstorming ways to increase the length of time viewers spend watching E!, a network best known for its clip shows. Rather than settle for surf-by viewership, Harbert is developing some key franchises to break through the clutter and give viewers a reason to make regular appointments with the network.
To help keep the Monday-Friday pipeline fully stocked, E! execs are screening several pilots this week that could fall under a “90210” umbrella. They include series revolving around Hollywood domestic help, divorce, real estate and wives. “Dr. 90210” centers on the personal and professional lives of five Beverly Hills surgeons.
“90210” fits perfectly within E!’s celeb-obsessed brand, Harbert said. “As Mr. Spelling understood several years ago, this town is different from anywhere else in the country.
“The way people get their hair done, shop for clothes, get a divorce, employ help — it’s all very different. It’s about much more than money; it’s about the attitude,” he said. “And I think that’s what makes it good television.”
First season of “Dr. 90210” averaged 708,000 overall viewers, growing from the skein’s premiere tally of 665,000. Sophomore cycle bowed Monday to 690,000.
E! could use more of those numbers. Wayne Newton reality competish “The Entertainer” hasn’t won over viewers. “Gastineau Girls” has steadily lost steam despite drawing a healthy aud of 650,000 on Feb 1. And the channel’s reenactments of the Michael Jackson trial got off to a slow start last week, though Harbert expects viewership to build as the trial progresses.
As for flagship “True Hollywood Story,” execs are wrapping production on a series of specials under the headings “True Hollywood Story Investigates” and “True American Story.” January episodes of “THS” focusing on Mary Kay Letourneau and gameshow “Wheel of Fortune” each delivered more than 800,000 viewers.
“Branching ‘THS’ out is something that should have been done years ago,” Harbert said. “It’s our biggest brand, and we’ve all seen the success that ‘Law & Order’ and ‘CSI’ has achieved using the same technique.”
“Investigates” will take an in-depth look at Hollywood trends. First special, “Love Behind Bars,” examines the phenomenon of women who fall in love with high-profile prisoners such as Scott Peterson. “True American Story” centers on the extraordinary stories of ordinary people; it premieres April 10.
Harbert is planning to premiere six more specials under each banner throughout the rest of the year.