Unscripted skeins take center stage

Cabler OWN has unveiled a half-dozen series, with emphasis on unscripted shows revolving around people dealing with emotional trauma. Oprah Winfrey’s tyro channel also announced the renewal of four series from its inaugural lineup as part of Discovery’s upfront presentation Thursday in Gotham’s Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall.

Relativity Real’s “Confronting …” will track the progress of people trying to heal broken relationships through meditation. Another reconciliation-themed show is True Entertainment’s “Unfaithful: Stories of Betrayal,” while “I Owe You My Life,” produced by Skip Film, will follow the stories of everyday folks who take risks to protect their fellow citizens.

Two showbiz-flavored series will devote their focus to a single cast of characters: Pilgrim Films’ “Sweetie Pies” follows Robbie Montgomery, a former backup signer for Ike Turner, who left the music industry and opened a soul food eatery after suffering a collapsed lung; and Kinetic Content’s “Louie Spence Dance Project” tracks the pop choreographer as he attempts to revitalize the curriculum Manhattan’s high-toned Broadway Dance Center.

Rounding out the new shows is “My Mom and Me,” from Firecracker Films, which focuses on unconventional mom-daughter relationships.

The series pickups come on the heels of OWN completing its first quarter on the air. Since its Jan. 1 debut, the cabler has averaged 309,000 viewers in primetime, up 21% from the viewership for its Discovery Health predecessor during the same period in 2010. In adults 18-49, OWN is averaging 116,000 viewers, up 10% from the year-ago period. Among the top basic cablers, OWN to date ranks No. 45 in total viewers and adults 18-49.

Execs said the fledgling cabler was likely to see growth as Winfrey becomes more available to the net after her syndicated show ended. The net’s namesake herself told the upfront crowd that she was looking forward to the launch of “Oprah Encore,” which will showcase reruns of her talkshow from over the years along with 60 new shows.

“When I leave here today I’ll have 25 (syndie) shows left,” Winfrey said. “Who’s counting? I am.”

Series renewals include six more eps each of “Ask Oprah’s All Stars,” “Enough Already! With Peter Walsh,” “In the Bedroom With Dr. Laura Berman” and eight segs of “Oprah Presents Master Class,” along with the previously announced “Our America With Lisa Ling.”

Among other announcements touted by Discovery brass at the event:

n Discovery will rebrand its HD Theater cable channel to target an upscale male aud. Rebranded as Velocity, new programming will begin in the fourth quarter. Discovery says that the new net will include more than 400 hours of programming.

n Animal Planet has renewed 14 series, including its strongest ratings performer “River Monsters.”

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