TruTV eyes Shaq, Mandel projects

Cabler adds to development mix

TruTV has ordered a pilot featuring former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal that will center around viral video clips, while also developing a new project from Howie Mandel.

“Upload with Shaquille O’Neal,” a potential weekly series, comes from Fishbowl Worldwide Media, with Vin Di Bona, Bruce Gersh, Susan Levison and Beth Greenwald exec producing alongside Mike Gibbons (“Tosh.0”).

TruTV is also moving two other projects into development: “Jeff & Curtis Lose Weight,” a Rive Gauche TV comic take on dieting programs featuring the duo of Jeff Sloniker and Curtis Rainsberry, and “Turbulence,” a gameshow held on a mid-flight airplane that comes from Mandel’s Alevy Prods.

The cabler also confirmed season premiere dates for returning series “Operation Repo” (June 6), “World’s Dumbest …” (June 7), “Lizard Lick Towing” (June 11) and “Storage Hunters” (June 12). “Hardcore Pawn” and “Vegas Strip” will then follow with season premieres in July, the same month that new spinoff series “Hardcore Pawn: Fort Bragg” launches.

Later in 2012, TruTV will premiere “Killer Karaoke” from Zodiak Prods. and “Guinness World Records Gone Wild” from High Noon Entertainment. Another planned series, “Container Wars” from T Group Prods., is awaiting a cast-contingency hurdle.

TruTV recently completed it top quarter for ratings in its history, ranking in basic cable’s top 10 among men 18-49, with a median primetime viewer age of 41. The cabler has eschewed an upfront presentation for a series of in-person meetings.

“Given the rapidly changing media environment, we decided the big budget upfront presentation does not provide the opportunity to sit down and develop unique solutions for our clients,” TruTV exec veep and COO Marc Juris said. “This year we don’t want to pitch. We want to partner.”

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