The network of “I Love New York” showed its affection for originals on Wednesday, announcing that it has greenlit a whopping seven series and will add a third night of programming later this year.
As its ratings continue to climb, VH1 said it would add new skeins in traditional nonscripted categories such as aspirational-reality and celebreality.
Those projects include “Click!,” a competition show from “America’s Next Top Model” producer 10 x 10 Entertainment in which unknowns compete to become fashion photographers, as well as “The Salt ‘N’ Pepa Show,” a celebreality skein in which cameras will follow the old-school R&B stars as they attempt to reunite.
But the slate will also take a number of unexpected turns.
It is moving forward on “Old Skool with Terry and Gita,” in which septuagenarians Terry Moore (a former movie star) and Gita Hall (a former supermodel), explore pop-culture trends. “From hip-hop to the gay community, the two ladies are committed to discovering what’s hip and happening today,” logline promises.
Net has also greenlit “America’s Most Smartest Model,” in which Ben Stein and celeb fashion figure Mary Alice Stephenson pose brain-teasers to a slew of male and female models.
And despite middling ratings for “Breaking Bonaduce,” VH1 is back in biz with the former child star. Instead of revisiting his demons, however, Bonaduce will coach child thesps and their nervous parents as they navigate Hollywood in a series titled “Danny Bonaduce’s Child Star.”
MTVN entertainment prexy Brian Graden said that VH1 hoped to strike the tricky balance between paying homage to older trends and celebs on the one hand while, on the other hand, expanding into formats, as it is doing with the fashion-photography and model skeins.
Two other series the net has greenlit include improv comedy “Free Radio,” in which comic Lance Krall asks celebs clueless questions, and “Lords of the Revolution,” an hourlong that will profile countercultural icons.
All orders are for between seven and ten eps, except for “Old Skool with Terry and Gita,” which is for five. All shows will be on the air by March; third night will come on Thursday, augmenting originals on Sunday and Monday.
Some cable nets have treaded lightly into a third night of programming — Bravo is one of the few major nets to announce the move — but VH1 execs say they’re not concerned about over-expansion.
“We don’t seem to have reached any particular level of saturation,” Graden said. “So we said ‘Let’s do a massive greenlight’ and see if we can create a critical mass.”
Net hopes to scatter the new shows among established hits, with execs saying that the “Salt ‘N’ Pepa Show,” for example, could be scheduled behind “Charm School.”
While MTV still produces more original programming hours than VH1, older-skewing sister net VH1 continues to gain ground by several metrics.
In the first quarter, net landed five spots in the top 50 most-watched programs (all segs of “I Love New York”) and gained 16% in total viewers in primetime.
Net also cited a 25% gain among viewers 18-49 this year.