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‘Queer Eye,’ ‘Jersey Shore’ Creators Reveal How Unscripted Franchises Were Revived

When Netflix announced last year that it would revive “Queer Eye,” the hit reality makeover show from a decade ago, the internet responded with a resounding “why?”

“The rights came back,” David Collins, co-creator and executive producer of “Queer Eye” said Tuesday night. The show, he explained, was “available for us to take out again.”

Collins appeared at a panel discussion hosted by HRTS, where he was joined by other unscripted producers and executives — as well as moderator Scott Hervey — to discuss the phenomena of rebooting successful reality franchises.

“The show has always been evergreen,” Collins said. “The format was beloved. It had international appeal. The run that we had originally on Bravo had been wonderful, but the time came when it ended, and there was just enough time to kind of settle it. And quite frankly, the Republican world came to be, and it was time for a new ‘Queer Eye’.”

The new iteration of the show has generated significant buzz for Netflix. It transplants the concept of the original to small-town Georgia, where the show’s cast of lifestyle experts are able to interact in meaningful ways with men who don’t always have the broadest worldview regarding LGBTQ people.

Collins said that, when it came time to shop a revival, most networks passed, citing the show’s close association with Bravo, where it aired for five seasons. But that wasn’t a concern for Netflix.

“They walked through the door with a piece of IP and a show that we evaluated just like we would evaluate any other show,” said Jenn Levy, director of unscripted originals and acquisitions at Netflix. “We don’t have the bumpers of a very specific brand. Our only brand is good content. So when we looked at ‘Queer Eye,’ we said, ‘This is a good brand. It is a show that is groundbreaking in its time. It is award winning, and it appeals globally, which is one of our deciding factors when we make a show.'”

Levy also let slip that the show has been viewed by “millions” of people worldwide. Netflix rarely gives indication of how many users view its shows, although content chief Ted Sarandos has in the past claimed that some Netflix originals are more watched than any other show on television, without offering numbers to back up such claims.

Jersey Shore” creator SallyAnn Salsano said that she was not worried that the show’s recent relaunch with its original cast, “Jersey Shore Family Vacation,” would not capture the chemistry of the original.

“We’re all a lot older, but we’re not necessarily wiser,” she said. “They’re still the same people. We’re all still the same. We all have bigger jobs and more responsibilities. But at the heart of it, during your down time, you still like doing the same things. It’s like when you go to your high school reunion or you go back for the weekend to see your high school friends, or you go back to see your cousins — you kind of fall in line.”

Executive producer Craig Piligian, however, had a different experience with “American Chopper.”

Piligian was not involved initially with the show’s revival, but was brought in, he said, because Discovery was unhappy about how a new season with a new producer was shaping up. Piligian, who had exec produced the show’s initial run, met with stars Paul Teutul and Paul Teutul Jr. and went about righting the ship.

“There was a lot of bad language between me and the two boys,” Piligian said. “But we were up there for about a day and a half, and eventually we agreed it would be best if I took over the show, and the other company stepped aside. But it was rough. It wasn’t very much fun, and a lot of bad blood was spilled at the beginning of it all. And now everything’s great. Reboots aren’t that f–king fun, let me tell you.”

Lauren Lexton was not involved in the original “Trading Spaces,” but came aboard as executive producer for the revival.

“‘Trading Spaces’ was always the show I wished I produced,” Lexton said. Doing so became a reality when she learned that Endemol Shine, parent company to Lexton’s Authentic Entertainment, owned the rights to the U.K. format on which the show was based. “It all kind of came about serendipitously.”

We TV president Marc Juris said that he zeroed in on reviving “Bridezillas” soon after joining the cabler.

“The one asset that we had that was probably the most well known and pop culturally relevant was a show that was not on our air for reasons that no one could actually explain to me,” he said. “We are a smaller network, so I thought, ‘Let’s go back to our roots with something that everyone knows.'”

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