A&E looks into ‘Live’

Cabler preps four reality skeins plus pair of pilots

A&E is undertaking longform explorations into the making of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” and the creation of latenight stalwart “Saturday Night Live,” which the net will unveil in addition to four reality series and a pair of pilots today during day one of the Television Critics Assn. press tour.

For the second quarter, cabler continued to build its key demos (up 15% among 18-49 viewers and 4% in 25-54), and just celebrated the lowest median age in the channel’s 21-year history — 49 — for July to-date.

“We’re hoping that comes down even lower soon,” said A&E exec veep-general manager Robert DeBitetto, pointing to the July 20 launches of younger-skewing skeins “Criss Angel Mindfreak” and “Inked.”

New on the series docket for next year is “God or the Girl,” a five-part reality special from the Wolper Organization that focuses on five men — all with girlfriends — deciding whether to enroll in a seminary.

A&E also has made six-episode commitments to Gay Rosenthal’s “Jackpot Diaries,” about real men and women whose lives have been transformed by winning the lottery, and Scott Sternberg’s “Spying on Myself,” announced in development in January. Cabler ordered Granada-produced “Dallas SWAT” last month (Daily Variety, June 28).

Debuting in the coming months are new seasons of “Growing Up Gotti,” “The First 48” and wish-fulfillment show “Random 1”; “Rollergirls” arrives in early 2006. DeBitetto said the cabler already has locked up several advertisers for the latter.

Pilots in the works fall under A&E’s justice programming banner, home to such shows as “Cold Case Files” and “The First 48.” Projects include “Restorative Justice,” a series from New Line Television that allows victims of a serious crime to confront the person responsible. Series will be told from the victim’s point of view as she prepares to come face to face with the perp.

“This show is really different from the traditional crime show. It’s about real people in conflict,” DeBitetto said. “It reminds me much more of the character-driven style of ‘Intervention.’ ”

Then there’s “Released,” also from Sternberg. Each episode tracks the first 24 hours after an inmate — sometimes one who was wrongfully imprisoned — is released.

On the longform front, A&E is developing “Hitchcock and the Making of ‘Psycho,’ ” a dramatization of the production of the horror classic. Movie will weave in the narrative of Ed Gein, the real-life serial killer who served as the inspiration for Norman Bates. Traveler’s Rest Films will produce in association with Alan Barnette Prods. (“Faith of My Fathers”).

“Live From New York” will follow the early days of “Saturday Night Live,” which begins its 31st season this fall. James A. Miller is penning the project based on his book, which he co-wrote with Tom Shales, with J.B. Rogers on board to direct. Cypress Point Prods. will produce.

Telepic “Back in Action” is based on the true story of Captain David Rozelle, an Iraq war vet who lost his right foot in combat and has gone on to snowboard, walk the New York City marathon and compete in a triathlon. Jaffe-Braunstein Films is producing. William Bingham is writing the script based on Rozelle’s book.

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