'Paradise,' 'Swan' among key turning points

A. Smith & Co. hits milestone | Five key moments | Company profiles | Sports series score points | ‘I Survived’ leads to bigger doings

A look at five key moments for A. Smith & Co. Prods:

“Paradise Hotel”
Episode seven
July 9, 2003
The show became a pivotal point in the A. Smith story because it was the company’s first huge success. Fox committed to 15 episodes right away because they loved the idea, and it only went bigger from there. “Episode 7 was the episode where we got the call that the show was working and was No. 1 with a young demographic, and (Fox) doubled the order from 15 to 31,” says company co-founder and CEO Arthur Smith. “We were so excited about the success — and then we realized we had to do so many more shows.”

“The Swan”
Series premiere
Apr. 7, 2004
The extremely controversial show attracted press, criticism and most importantly, viewers. “It brought to the surface a lot of conversations,” Smith says. “We were discussed on talk radio, and we were on the cover of People magazine. It was like lightning at the right time.” The impact of the show still lingers on for the producers. “I want to write a book someday about what went on behind the scenes on that show, because there were so many people that had such incredible stories and we wanted to be able to help all of them,” says Smith.

“Hell’s Kitchen”
Season-three premiere
June 4, 2007
Featuring the famously volatile Gordon Ramsay, the show has earned strong ratings since its beginning. “When we did the opening of that show one of the chefs had a meltdown, but what made it special was that the audience came back,” says Smith. “It was clear this wasn’t just a one-season thing, and that this was going to be something bigger.” The show is now in its eighth season on Fox.

“I Survived A Japanese Game Show”
Season-one finale
Aug. 6, 2008
Smith and Weed pitched the show to ABC in a February meeting, and executives liked it so much they ordered the show for that coming summer. The producers had to rush into production and assembled a crew, facilities and everything else they needed in Japan. “People on our crew kept quitting because they didn’t think we could do it, but we knew we could make it work,” Smith says. The show received Best of 2009 and Golden Rose honors in the reality programming category at the 49th Rose d’Or Festival.

“Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura”
Series premiere
Dec. 2, 2009
This series — which follows Ventura as he investigates and uncovers conspiracies — attracted truTV’s biggest audience ever for a program launch. The cabler has picked up the show for a second season. Smith believes Ventura with his experience as a Navy SEAL, governor and wrestler brings an unmatched resume and tremendous charisma to the show. “Jesse is so passionate, and the making of the show is part of the show that is really interesting,” says Smith. “You seem him arguing with producers and getting turned down for interviews.”

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