Net slates ‘Mates’

Bravo combines gay Cupids, straight gals

First, there was the Fab Five. Now, Bravo’s got “Gay Mates.”

The NBC-owned cabler and reality producer Vin Di Bona have pacted to develop and produce “Straight Dates by Gay Mates,” a relationship skein centered on two gay guys endeavoring to help a hapless hetero find love.

Hourlong show, based on the popular British format, follows a pair of would-be Cupids as they act as friend and confidant to a woman in order to track down a couple of dream dates for her, based on the woman’s wishes as well as style. They also help prepare her for the dates. At the end of each episode, the woman will decide whether she wants to continue dating one of the men, both or neither.

Exec producers Di Bona and Peter J. Schankowitz, who heads development for Vin Di Bona Prods., snapped up rights to the show from U.K. producer Prospect Pictures and show creator Richard Hastings last year. Joel Klein (“Fear Factor”) is aboard to co-exec produce.

Bravo has ordered a pilot and is currently casting the two hosts. Pilot will shoot in Los Angeles.

Senior VP of programming and development Frances Berwick, who originally saw a tape of the U.K. original, described “Straight Dates” as a potent mix of genres.

“It’s about overall life improvement done in this great combination makeover-dating show, which I think will prove very powerful,” Berwick said. “The show also blends a lot of style, fashion and tangible relationship tips with humor and attitude. So, like ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,’ it’s a show with heart.”

Berwick added casting would be key since both hosts will be expected to bond with the women from the get-go.

“We’re obviously going to be doing what we are known for — mining comedy out of reality — but we’re equally focused on this being a credible and very real search to address each woman’s wish list for a man,” Di Bona said.

“Who better to help a woman find Mr. Right than, as we like to say, her two fairy godfathers? And where better to do it than Bravo, the network that broke ground in the gay programming genre?” Schankowitz said. “The hosts will find out her past, her bad experiences, and then they’ll go out and find the guy.”

“I like to think of the show as a lighthearted public service for all heterosexuals courtesy of our gay friends,” he said.

Di Bona exec produces “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” now in its 14th year.

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