Bravo turns ‘Eye’ to gals

Spinoff tops net's original sked

Bravo is giving women their own version of the Fab Five.

Cabler has greenlit 13 episodes of “Queer Eye for the Straight Girl,” part of an aggressive slate of originals it will bow between now and early 2005.

NBC-owned channel has made series commitments to “Pilot Season,” an unscripted look at the making of a sitcom from “Will & Grace” star Sean Hayes and Shapiro/Grodner Prods. (“Big Brother”); the bioseries “Naked,” from producer Gay Rosenthal (“Behind the Music”); and a slew of other shows that explore the inner workings and personalities of showbiz.

Bravo also has recruited horror helmer Wes Craven to produce the resulting pic to come from season three of “Project Greenlight,” announced to air on the cabler in January. And buzzworthy new laffer “Significant Others” has been picked up for a second cycle.

Net topper Jeff Gaspin said the behind-the-scenes nature of the new projects represents the next step in the evolution of “arts & entertainment” for the cabler.

“One of the themes for Bravo next year will be inviting viewers into the creative process,” he said. “You watch ‘The Apprentice,’ but you don’t see what is going on behind the scenes and how it comes together.

“With ‘Project Greenlight,’ ‘Project Runway’ and ‘Pilot Season,’ we have a trio of shows that let audiences see the other side,” he explained. “It’s the next step for us as both an arts & entertainment and pop-culture channel.”

Gays and gals

For “Straight Girl,” a new team of gay lifestyle coaches will come to the aid of frumpy femmes. Casting is under way for a debut next year.

“It’s something our female fans have been requesting since ‘Queer Eye’ became a hit,” Gaspin said, adding that he isn’t concerned the channel would be overpowered by the franchise. ” ‘Straight Girl’ goes on the air a year and a half after the original launched, so I think enough time will have passed,” he opined.

In addition, creator-exec producer David Collins said the spinoff would not duplicate the Fab Five formula. Rather than five, the female version will likely use just three hosts and will cover different territory than the original quintet.

“Guys need the basics, the 101 information, whereas women are much more discriminating,” Collins said. “They know the basics, they want options, ways to amp it up a little. However, the ‘Queer Eye’ make-better philosophy will still be intact.”

“Pilot Season,” from exec producers Hayes, producing partner Todd Milliner and Shapiro/Grodner, is a hybrid competition/reality series that follows two aspiring sitcoms as they compete to assemble a pair of 15-minute pilot presentations in a 10-week period. Viewers vote for their favorite show, and the winner’s pilot will be up for grabs at NBC and Bravo.

Hayes said the show would be sort of a “show within a show that reveals how a comedy is produced from the script stage to rewriting jokes on the floor.

“The cool thing is that it may also turn out two really good sitcoms. I was in (NBC topper) Jeff Zucker’s office when I was originally pitching the project, and he asked me what would happen if they both suck. I said, ‘Well, it wouldn’t be any different from now.’ ”

As for “Greenlight,” Bravo has announced the third season would focus on scripts in the horror or thriller genre. Gaspin said the cabler has already received more than 5,000 applicants. Also from Miramax is the fashion world-set skein “Project Runway” aimed to find the next top designer (Daily Variety, Nov. 4).

Meanwhile, “Significant Others” is expected to be back for an additional six episodes. Series, a blend of scripted and improv elements, is produced by NBC Studios and exec producers Peter Tortorici and Rob R. Thomas.

Other new projects set to premiere late 2004/early 2005 include:

  • “Naked,” a biography series that lets the celebrity subjects of a profile defend themselves in front of a live studio audience (Daily Variety, March 5). Show is set for a fourth-quarter premiere.

  • “Long Way Round,” a six-hour series chronicling the four-month transcontinental motorcycle journey of actor friends Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman.

  • “Forty Deuce,” a limited series chronicling the opening of the L.A.-based nightclub’s second location in Las Vegas. Bravo has ordered four hours for the fall that will go behind the scenes of the casting and launch.

  • “From Strip to Screen,” a four-part project from Fox TV Studios documenting the translation of classic comicbook characters to the big and small screens.

  • An Elton John concert special for the fall. Show will tape this summer at Radio City Music Hall with two full orchestras.

  • The hourlong specs “100 Greatest TV Characters” and “100 Scariest Moments in Film.”

Next up for the net are the reality shows “Things I Hate About You” and “Blow Out” and a second season of “Celebrity Poker.”

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