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Digital age is music to MTV ears

Cabler looks ahead to new media

NEW YORK — MTV Networks outlined an aggressive digital strategy at a gaudy, star-studded upfront to advertisers Tuesday.

The basic message: “Feed the Need.”

With virtually every entertainment entity speculating about how best to take advantage of emerging media, MTVN is keen to claim it’s ahead of the curve.

“In a lot of ways, the technology has finally caught up with us,” said MTV Networks chair Judy McGrath at the Madison Square Garden presentation. “We’ve colonized the short-attention span. … The proliferation of screens has been our liberation.”

McGrath talked up the broadband channel including Overdrive, yet-to-launch music download service Urge, and the ability of MTVN to offer multiplatform deals to advertisers.

Apart from its multiplatform success, the network’s cablers announced individual plans.

  • Men’s net Spike has greenlit “Bullrun,” ordering 10 episodes of the reality show following a popular race car rally of the same name, and a second season of “Pros vs. Joes.” Cabler also announced the tentpole event “Scream 2006.”

  • Comedy Central will be throwing its first live on-air event — “Comedy Love Call,” a benefit for autism education and research programs. Network will team with Jon Stewart’s Busboy Prods. on the project, which will feature performances from comics including Adam Sandler, Jack Black, Sacha Baron Cohen, Stephen Colbert and Stewart himself.

Show will air live in October from Gotham’s Beacon Theater.

  • Nick at Nite has acquired four broadcast sitcoms to add to its 2006-07 lineup. Joining “The Cosby Show” on its sked will be its 1987 spinoff series “A Different World”; “NewsRadio,” which originally aired on NBC; CBS’ “Designing Women”; and ABC’s “Home Improvement.”

  • VH1 is pushing ahead with a slate of returning series from last year’s Celebreality lineup. Renewals include “Breaking Bonaduce,” “Celebrity Fit Club 4,” “Flavor of Love,” “My Fair Brady: We’re Getting Married,” “Web Junk 20” and “Hogan Knows Best.”

  • In addition to its three new tentpoles, “Foxworthy’s Big Night Out,” “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team” and “Finding Miss America,” country music cabler CMT is seeking success with five specials, including “CMT Giants,” in which stars pay musical tribute to country legends, and “CMT Cross Country,” a two-hour docu showcasing thrushes singing songs that have influenced them. Other specials include the “2007 Country Music Awards,” “CMT Outlaws” and “CMT Crossroads.”

Cabler made three renewals: a sixth season of cowboy training skein “Cowboy U”; a second season for “The Ultimate Coyote Ugly Search,” with Gotham bar owner Liliana Lovell; and 24 episodes of its hit series “Trick My Truck.”

Channel will preem “Broken Bridges,” the first offering from movie division CMT Films, in the fall.

A host of celebrities from MTV world were in attendance at the joint upfront, with performances from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kanye West and thesp Jessica Alba, who has been tapped to host the MTV Movie Awards on June 3.

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