You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

E! Prepares To Mix Scripted Fare Into Reality-Show Recipe

NBCUniversal’s E! said it would launch three new series and a set of specials as part of its new programming in the year ahead while it continued to focus on development as it casts about for a new hit franchise on the order of its various programs centered around the colorful Kardashian family.

The network, which the cabler’s parent has been seeking to turn into a more upscale venue since receiving the network as a result of its purchase by Comcast Corp. in 2011, is placing a bet on scripted fare – a significant maneuver for a network that has largely depended on reality series to stock much of its schedule.

The Royals,” E’s first original scripted drama, is set to launch in early 2015. Starring Elizabeth Hurley, “The Royals” is produced by Lionsgate and will depict a set of members of a modern-day royal family as their lives are buffeted by a 24/7 media cycle as well as social-media dynamics. The series is executive produced, written and directed by Mark Schwahn and executive produced by Brian Robbins and Joe Davola.

New programs will “continue to feel like they bring you the fun, celebrity access people want from the channel, whether it be through a comedic lens or an event lens,” said Suzanne Kolb, president of E! Entertainment, in an interview. She described “The Royals” as “the perfect scripted show for us” and said network executives will “continue to round out” the schedule with “reality frachises” and specials that play up live entertainment. And the network’s Kardashian antics will continue, Kolb said.

A second scripted series in development that executives are focused on is “Songbyrd”; a pilot was recently completed. The show tells the story of Lauren Byrd, a prolific writer of love songs whose own love live is a mess. The ensemble cast includes Bethany Joy Lenz, Rumer Willis, Robert Hoffman, Wes Brown and Tracie Thoms. From Universal Cable Productions,”Songbyrd” is from writer Krista Vernoff and executive produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. “Songbyrd” features the experiences of Grammy winner Diane Warren, who serves as a consulting producer. Director is Andrew McCarthy.

E! also has a scripted miniseries about the rise of fashion’s Gucci family in development, along with a New York-based edition of the network’s “Rich Kids” series.

Ad buyers think E! has been in an experimental mode in recent months, trying to find new programming ideas to make it less reliant on its Kardashian series. Among the programs it has tried are reality series featuring the family of actor/director Clint Eastwood; athlete Ryan Lochte; and Kevin Jonas, the eldest of the Jonas Brothers, and his new bride. “It’s a case of needing to refresh” after finding a groove with the Kardashian family, said, Sam Armando, senior vice president and director of strategic intelligence at media-research agency SMGx. “It is taking a bit longer than they might have liked.”

In June, E! will launch “Escape Club, a one-hour series in which 12 twentysomethings get to escape their lives and pursue their dreams at a tropical resort. In the new one-hour series Produced by Shed Media, Pam Healey, John Hesling, Dan Snook and Matt Odgers are executive producers.

In September, the network will launch “Botched,” an eight-episode one-hour series that focuses on the quest to correct extreme plastic surgery gone awry. Plastic surgeons Dr. Terry Dubrow and Dr. Paul Nassif will work with victims of ill-fated cosmetic work in an attempt to undo and fix their results. Executive produced by Alex Baskin, Douglas Ross, Greg Stewart and Mark Herwick for Evolution Media.

New specials set for the months ahead include a 90-minute documentary on male entertainers in Las Vegas, called “Men of the Strip.”

More Biz

  • Daily Show Viacom

    DirecTV, Viacom Avert Blackout After Marathon Negotiation

    DirecTV and Viacom have agreed on a carriage renewal pact covering a raft of Viacom’s cable channels after a marathon negotiation over the weekend. In a joint statement early Monday, the companies said: “We are pleased to announce a renewed Viacom-AT&T contract that includes continued carriage of Viacom services across multiple AT&T platforms and products. [...]

  • Discovery CEO David Zaslav Sees 2018

    Discovery CEO David Zaslav Sees 2018 Compensation Soar to $129.4 Million

    Discovery Inc. president-CEO David Zaslav is once again making headlines for an enormous compensation package. Zaslav’s 2018 compensation soared to $129.44 million in 2018, fueled by stock options and grants awarded as the longtime Discovery chief signed a new employment contract last July that takes him through 2023 at the cable programming group. Zaslav received [...]

  • Jonathan Lamy RIAA

    Jonathan Lamy Stepping Down From RIAA

    Jonathan Lamy, the Recording Industry Association of America’s longtime executive VP of communications and marketing, is stepping down from his post after 17 years, he announced today. As he put it in an email to Variety, “I started back in 2002, which means it’s been 17+ years, four different RIAA CEOs, three format changes and [...]

  • Fox Layoffs

    Disney-21st Fox Layoffs: TV Divisions Brace for Deep Cuts

    A second day of layoffs has begun on the Fox lot in the wake of Disney completing its acquisition of 21st Century Fox on Wednesday. Longtime 20th Century Fox Television Distribution president Mark Kaner is among the senior executives who were formally notified with severance details on Friday morning. 21st Century Fox’s international TV sales [...]

  • anthony pellicano

    Hollywood Fixer Anthony Pellicano Released From Federal Prison

    Anthony Pellicano, the Hollywood private eye whose wiretapping case riveted the industry a decade ago, was released from a federal prison on Friday, a prison spokeswoman confirmed. Pellicano was sentenced in 2008 to 15 years, following his conviction on 78 charges of wiretapping, racketeering, conspiracy and wire fraud. He had been in custody since 2003, [...]

  • This image taken from the Twitter

    HBO’s Reaction to Trump’s ‘Game of Thrones’ Campaign

    Everyone wants a piece of the “Game of Thrones” lemon cake. From Bud Light to Red Bull the world of Westeros is open to a lot of brand partnerships, unless you’re using that iconic typeface to push a political agenda. In November of 2018 President Donald Trump unveiled a “Thrones” inspired poster with the words [...]

  • Leaving Neverland HBO

    'Leaving Neverland' Lawsuit Proves to Be a Judicial Hot Potato

    The Michael Jackson estate sued HBO last month for airing the documentary “Leaving Neverland,” which accuses the late King of Pop of serial child sexual abuse. Since then, the case has had a difficult time finding a judge to handle it. Three federal judges have recused themselves in the last week, citing potential financial conflicts [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content