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A&E, History announce new projects

Nets bring specials, miniseries to smallscreen

A correction was made to this article on January 10, 2007.

A&E and its History Channel sibling together announced eight projects at the TV Crtics Assn. gathering in Pasadena on Tuesday, ranging from a report on the influence of “Star Trek” on American culture to the ministrations of a Buffalo, N.Y., matchmaker.

Five of the eight are History miniseries or specials.

  • “Star Trek: Beyond the Final Frontier,” hosted by Leonard Nimoy, includes interviews with a number of principals of the five separate TV series and the 10 theatrical movies, who’ll discuss the impact of the phenomenon, climaxing in an official auction of “Trek” memorabilia at Christies in New York last October. Air date is Feb. 19.

  • History has commissioned four more specials on “Barbarians,” including “the Vandals” and “the Saxons,” from Gardner Films. Also, “The Dark Ages,” a two-hour special from KPI and Chris Cassel cq, covers six centuries from the fall of Rome to the beginnings of the European Renaissance. The network will run these the week of March 5, along with repeats of the four “Barbarians” hours from 2004.

  • “Cities of the Underworld,” from Authentic Entertainment and Thirty Four Prods., goes into the tunnels, abandoned subway lines, dungeons and other subterranian locations beneath Rome, London, Paris and New York. It premieres in April.

  • “USS Constellation: Battling for Freedom,” from David M. Frank and Indigo Films, deals with the warship that fought to save Africans from the slave trade on the eve of the Civil War. Air date: Feb. 10.

  • “Nixon: A Presidency Revealed,” from Team Prods. and David C. Taylor, uses recently released audio tapes to home in on the events leading to Nixon’s resignation as president, a first in Amercian history. Air date: Feb. 15.

The one A&E show that’s a series go for 13 half-hours is “Patti Novak: America’s Toughest Matchmaker,” which shows Novak’s methods with two couples each week, from the first interview to the initial date to the followup in which she issues her verdict on the likelihood of a successful pairing. Sharp Entertainment is the producer, along with Smash Advertising. It kicks off in the second quarter.

The two other A&E projects are pilots. A scripted animated show, “Hollywood DMV,” from Popular Arts Entertainment, deals with the petty grievances among employees of the motor-vehicles department, punctuated by standup comics’ cracking jokes while standing on line for their drivers’ licenses.

“Alien Encounters,” from Thom Beers, Philip Segal and Original Prods., a reality show, enlists a scientific task force to explore whether beings from another planet are trying to communicate with earthlings.

A&E’s previously announced 12-half-hour reality series “Sons of Hollywood” tracks the daily lives of Aaron Spelling’s son Randy; Rod Stewart’s son Sean; and talent manager David Weintraub. The three young men share a house during the summer and try to “forge their own identities.” JT Taylor is exec producer for iCandyTV. “Sons” premieres Sunday, April 1, at 10 p.m.

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