'Jersey Shore' spinoff draws 2.9 million viewers

“Jersey Shore” spinoff “The Pauly D Project” got off to a solid, if unspectacular, start Thursday night.

Starring Paul “Pauly D” Del Vecchio, the 10:30 half-hour telecast attracted 2.9 million viewers and 2.1 million in the cabler’s target 12-34 demo.

As a lead-in, the return of “Punk’d” — off the air since 2007 — garnered 3.2 million viewers and 2.1 million in the demo. Both were the top two cable series in the demo for the night.

Show, in which celebrities get elaborate tricks played upon them, was formerly hosted by Ashton Kutcher, but in the updated version a new host is selected each week. Justin Bieber handled the duties in the premiere.

“Punk’d” is exec produced by Katalyst’s Jason Goldberg and Kutcher. Lauren Dolgen, Colin Nash, Kristina Edwards and Jennifer Russakoff are exec producers for MTV.

As for “The Pauly D Project,” the 2.9 million represents a steep drop from the recent season-five finale of “Jersey Shore” but was within MTV’s expectations. Show is produced by SallyAnn Salsano’s 495 Prods. She exec produces with Jacquelyn French, Larry Rudolph and Adam Leber.

MTV has ordered 12 episodes of each series.

In other news at the teen-centric cabler, reality stalwart “The Real World” was given a 28th season renewal and a 23rd season for “The Challenge.” The 27th season of “The Real World” is currently shooting in St. Thomas.

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