Network falls 'Hard' for Katzenberg

MTV has greenlit five series for 2010, including “Hard Times,” a pilot directed and co-produced by David Katzenberg that signals the network’s foray into live-action scripted programming.

“We’ve done scripted before, (but) I would say this is the first series greenlight since our renewed focus on diversifying our development slate in the past couple months,” MTV programming prexy Tony DiSanto told Daily Variety.

“Is MTV shifting and becoming a scripted network? It’s really not — it’s just that reality is not an ownable position anymore, and it can’t be a default position. People expect us to present a diverse slate.”

“Times,” which received a 12-episode order, focuses on a 15-year-old late bloomer making his way through high school life. Seth Grahame-Smith (“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”) co-produced with Katzenberg and wrote the pilot.

“I think (David) has got a huge career ahead of him as a director,” DiSanto said of the hyphenate who is the son of DreamWorks Animation mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg. “He did 57 setups in one day — sort of Robert Rodriguez numbers there. He did a fantastic job not only visually but also (drawing out performances).”

Paul Iacono (“Fame”), whom DiSanto likened to Michael Cera in “Superbad,” stars.

Despite the move into scripted fare, nonscripted programming nevertheless reigns at MTV for the time being. In addition to ordering second seasons of “Silent Library,” “Teen Cribs” and “Is She Really Going Out With Him?,” the cabler put three nonscripted shows on its new series slate:

  •  “American Idiots,” a competition show featuring reenactments of viral videos, with Ashton Kutcher, Jason Goldberg, Rod Aissa and Karey Burke of Katalyst onboard to exec produce;

  • “Downtown Girls,” which follows the lives of five New York City twentysomethings, with Rico Martinez, Dan Lindau, Brooke Posch and Conan Smith of Crossroads Television exec producing;

  • “Megadrive,” exec produced by Tony Tackaberry and Allison Corn of Lion Television, which features comedian Johnny Pemberton behind the controls of extreme land, sea and air vehicles.

In addition, Robert Hoffman, whose online character Urban Ninja has garnered more than 30 million views, has been given his own vehicle, an untitled hybrid of reality, comedy and variety. Hoffman shares exec producer duties with Michael Baum of Impression Entertainment.

John Foy and Troy Searer of Tijuana Entertainment exec produce “Is She Really Going Out With Him” with Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun of BermanBraun plus Jay Louis. “Silent Library” is exec produced by Adam Dolgins and Frank Gregory.

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