MTV unveils programming sked at upfronts
Following Saturday’s wedding between Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, there’s certainly more drama to come on “The Hills,” but Lauren Conrad won’t be part of it.At the MTV upfront in New York on Tuesday, the network announced that the 23-year-old reality phenomenon — who became a celebrity when she was the focus of “Laguna Beach” in 2004 and now owns her own fashion line — will not join “The Hills” cast when it continues its fifth season later this year. Six episodes of season five have already aired, and at least three more will follow. MTV prexy Stephen Friedman emphasized that advertisers would be talking to the “millennial” generation if they bought time on MTV, though he didn’t quite reconcile that generation’s love of computers with the TV ad sales pitch. “What’s different about the millennials is how they’re looking to online communities to replace real ones,” Friedman admitted. He argued, though, that “the TV screen is still the best place to come together.” Head of programming Tony DiSanto concurred, boosting Alexa Chung, who is skedded to host her own live daytime skein, “The Alexa Chung Show.” DiSanto suggested that at least one show would be able to tear the net’s target demo away from its computers by encouraging them to bring their laptops to the couch. Apparently, tweeting is the new music at MTV: Cabler is joining forces with both Facebook and current social network craze Twitter as part of “Alexa Chung.” Hosted by the British model and TV personality, the show will be similar to MTV’s long-running “TRL,” which was originally hosted by Carson Daly and broadcast live from Times Square in Gotham. Skein ended its 10-year run in November. Audiences — whether they’re on the set or watching from home — will be encouraged to tweet their reaction to celebrities and musical guests while “Alexa Chung” is on the air. Reveille is producing; exec producers are Tim Healy, Sebastian Scott, Howard T. Owens and Mark Koops. Popcorn-munching advertisers chuckled at the occasional joke, but the biggest laughs went to the Andy Samberg/Michael Cera/Jack Black MTV Movie Awards promos, featuring 2009 host Samberg as Cera and Black’s love child. Network is actively courting the millennial generation — those born roughly between 1980-2000 — and it’s seeking an aspirational tone in its lineup of shows amid tough economic times. “Millennials have a great sense of optimism and are filled with a can-do spirit that’s infused into all areas of their lives,” said DiSanto. “Just as we’ve shifted with our audience in the past, we’re now embracing a brand new filter … one that inspires us to break boundaries, bust our mold and reinvent.” In touting the millennial generation, MTV is going after an audience hyper-targeted by rivals including ABC Family and broadcaster the CW. Sister Nickelodeon brand the N — soon to be renamed TeeNick — also covets a segment of the millennial aud. At the upfront, DiSanto touted the cabler’s low median age for its guy-focused Saturday block. “The Buried Life,” about four young men who try to make good on 100 dreams –from kissing Rachel McAdams to seeing their names in the Guinness Book of World Records — was one of nine shows given a greenlight by the network. In addition to “The Alexa Chung Show,” there’s also the following:
- “DJ and the Fro”: A “Beavis and Butt-head”-type animated skein about two slackers who aren’t exactly sure what their roles are at a large corporation.
- “The Stylist”: Reality show about a group of junior assistants working for successful celebrity stylists. At the end of the season, one will be signed to a contract with the Margaret Maldonado agency.
- “Ultimate Parkour Challenge”: Embracing the parkour freestyle phenomenon in which runners move from one space to another by acrobatically overcoming obstacles; competitors will vie for $10,000.
- “Pranked”: The best pranks from the Internet are offered.
- “Popzilla”: Animated sketch that skewers the latest in pop culture.
- “Gone Too Far”: Hosted by DJ AM, the show will follow an 18- to 25-year-old drug addict or alcoholic as he confronts his issues and tries to find sobriety.
- “Disaster Date”: Hidden-camera comedy in which an actor goes on a blind date and makes the encounter as awful as possible. The longer the unknown man or woman stays on the date without leaving, the more money he or she will win. Programs drawing renewals in addition to “The Hills” are “Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory,” “Nitro Circus,” “Randy Jackson Presents: America’s Best Dance Crew” and “Run’s House.” In development is “Bridge & Tunnel,” about nine Staten Island, N.Y., teens who are struggling to figure out what they want to do with their lives. Net bills the show as “the flipside of ‘The Hills.’ ” “Bridge and Tunnel” comes from Ish Entertainment. Michael Hirschorn, Stella Bulochnikov Stolper, Chris Choun and Richard Calderon executive produce; show was created by: Naomi Bulochnikov.