'TMZ' gets behind user-generated reality series

HOLLYWOOD — A half-dozen Fox Television Stations are set to test-run “Beyond Twisted,” a half-hour reality strip from the producers of “TMZ” that will offer user-generated content with commentary from the show’s production staff.

“Twisted,” from Telepictures Prods. and Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, will air as an eight-week trial on Fox O&O’s in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Phoenix and Minneapolis/St. Paul beginning July 6. Harvey Levin is exec producing.

“It’s an untapped area that’s been really popular in different places,” Levin told Daily Variety. “The biggest thing in portals is odd news but that goes against what the material is: entertaining, engaging and shocking.”

With content already shot and garnered from sources such as YouTube and other popular video-generated websites, skein has fewer startup costs. If the show fails to connect with auds, both Fox and Telepictures will not take much of a financial hit.

Fox successfully used a six-week test window last year for chatfest “The Wendy Williams Show,” which is returning for a full run in July.

“It’s the only way to put things on the air and guarantee that nobody’s going to go broke,” Frank Cicha, senior VP of programming at Fox Television Stations, told Daily Variety. “This way you can afford to take a couple more swings. And if it works, Warners has the best sales pitch in the world: 40 episodes and a ratings story.”

Airing during different parts of the day on each station will give Fox and Warners a sense of how “Twisted” is playing on its own, rather than as a lead-in or follow-up to a hit or ratings-challenged program.

As Telepictures doesn’t want to step on its own toes, “Twisted” will offer non-celebrity clips. “TMZ,” which began in September 2007, covers that terrain extensively.

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