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John Legend to Produce A Cappella Competition Series for Pop

A documentary series looking at a cappella singing groups vying for a championship will stand among the offerings at emerging entertainment-cable network Pop as it moves on from its launch in January.

The network, formed from the spine of the old TV Guide Network and owned jointly by CBS Corp. and Lionsgate, said it would launch “Sing It On,” a series consisting of eight one-hour episodes, on Wednesday May 13 at 10 p.m. before moving it to a regularly scheduled time at 9 p.m. that night starting March 20. Singer John Legend will executive produce the program along with production partners from Get Lifted Film Co., Ty Stiklorius and Mike Jackson. CORE Media Group is producer. Cameras will capture the behind-the-scenes struggle by top-rated collegiate a cappella squads to win a coveted award.

Legend and his production company have  also signed a first-look development deal with Pop to develop projects that fit within the mission statements of both entities.

The announcements are part of the annual pre-Spring spate of  TV-network news leading to the “upfront” market, when U.S. TV networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming programming cycle. At Pop, the mission is to try to take some ad money normally earmarked for competitors like Bravo, Oxygen, We and  E!, noted Brad Schwartz, president of Pop, during a press briefing Thursday, by pointing to ratings growth at the young network that can be harnessed for what the executive said was “more efficient” pricing.

Pop will launch a new reality series, “Queens of Drama,” featuring fan-favorite soap stars Lindsay Hartley, Crystal Hunt, Vanessa Marcil, Chrystee Pharris and Hunter Tylo. Donna Mills and Joan Collins will make guest appearances. The show is produced by Think Factory Media. And the network hopes to add new life to the annual Daytime Emmy Awards, by televising the ceremony live and instilling Tyra Banks as host.

Pop represents an effort by CBS and Lionsgate to tap into the themes of celebrity and fun, which have helped fuel competitors like Comcast, Viacom and A+E Networks. Under Schwartz, Pop is trying to keep away from gossip and stick to enthusiasm, examining stars and cultural phenomena that inspire passionate fan bases.

The network is developing a game show called “Doubt” that asks seemingly simple true-or-false questions about pop culture, and “Celebrity Inc.,” a riff on the formula that has brought fizz to ABC’s “Shark Tank.” The Pop show will paired celebs with  an aspiring inventor who craves their seal of approval. Mel. B. will star in the pilot, which will air as a one-hour special in 2015 on the network . w

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