Series slate gets some TLC

Net's programming chief Drobnyk lines up skeins

Christian Drobnyk is putting his stamp on TLC.

Just seven months after becoming head of programming for the Discovery Networks’ cabler, Drobnyk has greenlit his first slate of series, which continue to diversify TLC’s lineup of “live and learn” series.

Shows are “Mind Your Manners,” an etiquette boot camp for everyday folks, from City Lights TV; “Family Surgeons,” a hospital-set counterpart to “American Chopper,” from the Idea Factory; and “My First House,” an insider’s guide to the first-time buyers market, from Authentic.

All three series are slated to debut some time in the second quarter, following the move of Discovery’s highly rated testosterone franchises such as “American Chopper” to TLC in mid-January.

TLC exec VP-general manager David Abraham said with the programming guidance of Drobnyk the channel is well on its way to overcoming the “Trading Spaces” boom that began to falter in 2004 (a year before Abraham’s arrival at the net).

“I’d say the strategy we’ve laid out to create new nights and new franchises is working. Momentum has been established, and we’re on solid footing now,” Abraham said.

Breakthroughs include frosh skeins “Little People, Big World,” “Miami Ink” and “Honey, We’re Killing the Kids!” — all of which will return with new episodes next year.

Ratings are also up: TLC has had eight consecutive months of year-on-year growth and posted an 8% increase in 18-49 and a 14% bump in 18-34 during the third quarter.

“We’re ambitious for the network to reclaim the ground it had going back three or four years. The goal is to be consistent and to keep knocking out shows,” he added.

Drobnyk, who is senior VP, said the new skeins separately target each of TLC’s core genres, which include lifestyle, medical and health, and property and home. Drobnyk took the programming reins at TLC in May after former production/development chief Sean Gallagher and Discovery Channel programmer Abby Greensfelder ankled to set up their own production company (Daily Variety, May 3).

Ten-episode “Mind Your Manners,” which falls under cabler’s lifestyle block, is “the ultimate guide to knowing how to behave for any occasion,” Drobnyk said. Participants will undergo etiquette training in preparation for such situations as a first date or a job interview.

For TLC’s medical/health night is “Family Surgeons.” Drobnyk describes the 10-part skein as “American Chopper” meets “The Biggest Loser” — show follows a father-son medical practice specializing in gastric bypass surgeries. Episodes will follow both the patients’ treatment as well as the family dynamic.

Then there’s “My First Home,” which chronicles the process of buying a home in today’s climate. Drobnyk says the show addresses a chief concern among the 28- to 42-year-old demographic TLC targets. Twelve episodes have been ordered.

“These days, adults tend to get on the property ladder later in life, and when they do get on, it is considered a huge and significant endeavor,” exec said. “This show will give some insight on how to get going, with a lot of entertainment and relationship elements mixed in.”

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