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MTV takes on ‘Girl,’ ‘Valley’

Cabler expands scripted domain with new shows

MTV has moved further into the scripted world, giving series orders to the coming-of-age entry “That Girl” and the horror comedy “Death Valley.”

Both series, which will bow sometime next year, come on the heels of previously ordered scripted entries “Skins” and “Teen Wolf.” MTV also has a second season on tap of “The Hard Times of RJ Berger.”

“The idea is to offer each segment of our audience as many different programming choices as possible,” said MTV scripted development exec VP David Janollari.

The exec, who joined the cabler at the start of the year, has said he plans to develop between six and eight scripted pilots annually, with an eye toward half of those projects going to series.

“All these shows, as unique as they are, are helping us achieve that end goal,” he said.

That Girl” (still a working title) centers on a 15-year-old misfit who suddenly becomes the center of attention after the kids in school mistakingly believe she tried to commit suicide. Show — which could be described as the female counterpoint to MTV’s “Hard Times” — takes on issues of jealousy, body image, friendship, sex and parental guidance, MTV said.

Lauren Iungerich (“10 Things I Hate About You”) created “That Girl” and exec produces; Millicent Shelton directed the pilot. MTV scripted VP Justin Levy was instrumental in bringing “That Girl” to the network.

“Death Valley” focuses on an elite branch of the Los Angeles Police Department — known as the Undead Task Force — that fights zombies, vampires and werewolves, all of which have taken over the San Fernando Valley.

Storytelling is told through the eyes of a documentary crew that is embedded with the UTF. Ensemble cast includes Caity Lotz (“Mad Men”) and Tania Raymonde (“Lost”).

Austin Reading and Julie Kellman Reading exec produce through Liquid Theory, while Eric Weinberg (“Scrubs”) and Tim Healy also exec produce. Spider One is also attached.

“‘Death Valley’ is the perfect combination of horror and comedy, two genres we know our audience responds to,” said Tony DiBari, MTV senior VP of production.

MTV has so far focused on two genres that Janollari said speaks to the young MTV audience: Tales about growing up (“Hard Times,” “Skins,” “That Girl”) and shows like “Teen Wolf” and “Death Valley,” both of which MTV believes tap into a growing appetite from young women for tales with a spooky backdrop.

“Both (‘That Girl’ and ‘Death Valley’) come from two opposite points of view, but they’re the next natural extensions of our scripted plans,” Janollari added.

Next up, Janollari said he’s looking to develop projects that explore the post-high school world, college and twentysomething experience, in the hopes of “connecting and reflecting back the ideas of our Millenial audience.”

MTV is still mulling its launch and scheduling plans for “Skins” and “Teen Wolf,” both of which just started production, in addition to these two new entries. Just as it bowed “Hard Times” behind the MTV Movie Awards last year, that June event is expected to once again use that kudofest as a scripted series launch pad.

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