MTV is getting ready to take some of the biggest programming swings in its more than three decades on the air.
The Viacom-owned network will launch a reimagining of the popular horror-movie franchise “Scream” and is preparing a limited series based on the epic fantasy series of “Shannara” novels by author Terry Brooks. What’s more, the network will also debut two new takes on the talk-show format, a documentary series featuring a YouTube celebrity; and a reality series built around rapper Ja Rule. In all, the network will launch eight new series in all and said it had another 85 in development.
The idea behind the slate is to woo communities of passionate viewers with the cinematic “Scream” and “Shannara,” while devising other series that can be diced up and played and posted on social networks and digital sites to augment traditional TV-viewing activity. One new show, :”Greatest Party Story Ever,” will use animated segments to tell some of its stories.
The schedule reflects a growing desire by the network’s parent to devise content that plays well across the many kind of new “screens” younger consumers view as they make greater use of mobile devices and video streaming. Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman has told investors several times in the last few weeks that the company was working to create new kinds of ad deals that were based on emerging behaviors centered around digital video. Viacom has opened discussions with several advertisers around the idea of deals that hinge on getting viewers to react to advertising messages or even post them via social media, according to a person familiar with the situation.
MTV is revealing its new schedule as part of the annual “upfront” market, when U.S. TV networks try to sell the bulk of their advertising for the coming programming cycle. The network was expected to show the first seven minutes of “Scream” at a presentation to advertisers scheduled for late Tuesday afternoon.
“Scream” will center on a group of teens trying to deal with a potential killing spree. MTV and Dimension TV will produce the series, which counts Bob and Harvey Weinstein as executive producers. Jill Blotevogel and Jaime Paglia will executive produce and show run, with John Shiban will serve as consulting producer. Additional executive producers are Wes Craven, Tony DiSanto, Liz Gateley, Marianne Maddalena and Cathy Konrad.
The network’s other big bet, “The Shannara Chronicles” will follow three heroes on a quest to stop an evil army of demons from destroying life as they know it. Al Gough and Miles Millar are writers and executive producers, while Jon Favreau, Jonathan Liebesman, Terry Brooks and Dan Farah also serve as executive producers. MTV is producing with Sonar Entertainment.
MTV will launch two new talk-show variants, “Girl Code Live” and “Middle of the Night Show.” The first is hosted by three of the women from the sketch-comedy program “Girl Code” and will tackle celebrity guests, games, candid talk and more in front of a live studio audience. The half-hour show will appear once a week. “Middle of the Night Show” offers a twist on the late-night genre: In each episode, he show’s crew and live band crash the bedroom of an unsuspecting celebrity who is forced to host a talk show on the spot without any preparation and on very little sleep. CollegeHumor’s Brian Murphy will serve as the celebrity’s co-host and guide throughout the evening.
Other new programs include: “Todrick,” a weekly documentary series focused on YouTube star Todrick Hall, who lets inside the process of how he makes his popular videos; “One Bad Choice” a reality series that uses first-person narrative and re-enactments to show how a single mistake can change a life forever; “Follow The Rules,” a reality series starring Ja Rule and the very large and boisterous family he lives with under a single roof; and “Greatest Party Story Ever,” a half-hour weekly program that uses animation and first-person storytelling to illustrate tales friendship and epic debauchery.
MTV said it had struck a development deal with Logan Paul, a popular personality on Vine, to devise what it called a “loosely scripted” comedy series.