What's new in cable
A brief look at what the top 25 networks will bring to viewers this year
By Ken Kerschbaumer -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/27/2001 8:00:00 PM
A&E will premiere two new series in the fall: Real People TV (from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? executive producer Michael Davies) and Minute-by-Minute. Several documentary specials are also on tap, including Heroes of Iwo Jima, Darkside of Boxing and Barrymore on the Barrymores.
A new series from AMC is The Lot, which takes a satirical look at life behind the gates of a major movie studio during Hollywood's golden age. AMC will offer a number of specials in the coming months, as well. First up is Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days on June 1. Also on tap is Out of the Closet, Off the Screen: The William Haines Story. In August, Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel will be shown, followed in September by Dish. In October, The Omen Legacy will make its debut, and November brings Hello, He Lied & Other Truths From the Hollywood Trenches.
Along with The West Wing and The Larry Sanders Show, Bravo will also present new originals. July will bring the six-part Stagestruck, and October offers the 13-part The It Factor series and Musicians. August will give viewers a look at popular music with the eight-hour Popular Song: Soundtrack of the Century. Special events include Aeros, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Marlene, Cinderella, Bill Wyman's Blues Odyssey, Jazz Seen: The Life and Times of Photographer William Claxton, Cirque du Soleil's Alegria and Linda Eder's Christmas Concert.
Along with a Bugs Bunny marathon the first weekend in June that promises to be the Bugs marathon of all marathons, the Cartoon Network has a number of original animated series set to debut, as well. Time Squad, Samurai Jack, Justice League, Grim & Evil and more than 110 new episodes of renewed programs top the slate. Other new series to the network include Batman: The Animated Series, The Adventures of Batman & Robin, The New Batman/Superman Adventures and Superman.
Comedy Central's summer lineup kicks off with Primetime Glick on Wednesday, June 20. The show features "Hollywood legend" Jiminy Glick, played by Martin Short, who reprises a role he originated for The Martin Short Show. Also new this summer will be Let's Bowl, premiering Sunday, Aug. 19. Comedy Central describes it as The People's Court meets Bowling for Dollars as two people with a beef bowl for prizes. If a 7-10 split isn't funny enough for you, sketch comedy is also part of the equation.
On the late-night front, Comedy Central is giving Chris Wylde and Dave Attell their own shows on Sunday nights at 11:30 and midnight, respectively. The working title of Wylde's program is Good Night America Starring Chris Wylde, while Dave Attell's program will be called Insomniac With Dave Attell. The network has ordered 10 episodes of each.
Forensics jumps to the forefront during the last week of August for fans looking to get their fill of Forensic Files. Five episodes of the series will be shown, as well as a documentary called Ira Einhorn (Unicorn Killer). The week of Aug. 13 will see two documentaries premiere: The Wrong Man and Murder or Tragedy: The Pioneer Hotel Fire. In September, documentary Attica will debut.
Original specials include Court TV's Safety Challenge 2001, The Secret History of Rock and Roll, Shots in the Dark and Secret Service: In the Line of Fire. The network will also offer its first original made-for-TV movie: A Bombing in Birmingham.
This summer, Discovery will present two new originals: State of the Planet With David Attenborough (a three-part miniseries) and When Dinosaurs Roamed America. A number of prime time specials will premiere in the fourth quarter, including Walking With Prehistoric Beasts (from the team that did Walking With Dinosaurs), Weather X, In Search of the USS Indianapolis, Pearl Harbor: The Death of the Arizona (working title), The Mystery of the Alaskan Mummies and The Ultimate Guide: Mastodon.
Two new daytime series will be offered this summer on the Fox Family Channel: Braveface and So Little Time. A new prime time series, State of Grace, will be launched on June 25, and a new original movie will also grace the channel this summer: Till Dad Do Us Part. In December, the romantic drama Three Days will be shown.
Two new series will whet the appetite of viewers beginning in July: Unwrapped and Appetite for Adventure. The working title for a new series to hit in the fall is Fit With Flavor, while Cooking School Stories will let viewers see what it takes to be a chef in a top restaurant kitchen. A number of limited series will also be offered in the summer and fall, including My Country, My Kitchen and Jacques Torres Chocolate. Other specials include NBA Cafe: Most Valuable Moms and Roadie Chefs II, hosted by kd lang.
FX is still sorting out the series situation for the fall, but it does have three movies set. Sins of the Father is the first of a three-picture deal with former HBO Pictures head Bob Cooper and Landscape Entertainment. The second picture in the deal will be for a movie based on the life of Robert F. Kennedy. The third movie is from Andy Wolk and has the working title The Warren Commission.
HBO is riding a hot streak with its original series, and it looks to continue the streak with Six Feet Under and The Mind of the Married Man, a comedy series debuting in September.
The network's big event looks to be September's Band of Brothers, a 10-part miniseries executive-produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.
New HBO films include Stranger Inside and Dinner With Friends. Britney Spears: Live from MGM Grand Las Vegas is also set to premiere later this year.
HGTV has a busy year planned, with 11 new series, 38 new specials, and 54 returning series. New series for the remainder of 2001 include House Detective, Indoor Gardenin, A Place to Call Home, Renovations, Sensible Chic, Sew Much More and Wood Works. Several new specials are also planned, including Celebrating Autumn, Spectacular Pools, Barns and A Small Town Christmas.
The History Channel has new series in the programming mix, as well as miniseries and specials. New series include This Week in History, History vs. Hollywood, Modern Marvels, History Alive, History Undercover, Dangerous Missions and The Color of War. Specials include Founding Brothers, American Classics, Blind Man's Bluff, Gold!, Mr. Dreyfuss Goes to Washington and My Father's Gun.
Lifetime will look to build a second night of original programming on Saturdays beginning in August. The block will be anchored by Women Docs, a reality-based program that will profile women in the medical field. It will be paired with existing program Beyond Chance. A number of new daytime series are also on tap. Lifetime Now is a half-hour weekly magazine-style talk show, while Health Show (working title) looks to provide 30 minutes of health information. Real Lives will also start.
Original movies include Snap Decision and Dangerous Child. On the slate is Their Last Chance, starring Ellen Burstyn.
The network has already kicked off its summer slate with TRL's Retirement Home, which is located in Key West. New programs on the schedule include Key West Sunrise, Hot Zone, Mandy (a talk show hosted by Mandy Moore), MTV's Sink or Swim, and Carmen Electra's Hypermix.
The only new series that can be confirmed is Oswald, a half-hour program aimed at preschoolers and featuring a blue octopus in the "big city." It debuts in August. As for specials, the new TEENick summer concert series begins on June 17.
Odyssey will introduce new series in August, with Telling Stories With Tomie dePaola and The Neverending Story both making their debuts. In the fall, Lincoln Hall (working title) and The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells will be added to the schedule, while Sherlock Holmes in the Royal Scandal, the working title of a two-hour movie, will premiere in September.
July will see the launch of The Chronicle, a one-hour comedy/drama series that follows the exploits of a tabloid newspaper whose alien and other wacky headlines are true. New original movies include Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers and Firestarter: The Next Chapter.
Showtime continues to make its case as a strong contender for quality original programming as Walter and Henry premieres on June 10. On June 29, the network offers up a sci-fi trilogy: On the Edge.
June series highlights include season premieres for Resurrection Blvd. and Soul Food. Resurrection Blvd. is the first weekly one-hour dramatic series to prominently feature Latinos in front of and behind the cameras. Soul Food is based on the 1997 hit film of the same name and follows the multi-generational struggles and triumphs of an African-American family in Chicago.
For July, two original movies are in the offing: 3 A.M. (produced by Spike Lee and Sam Kitt) and My Horrible Year (starring Eric Stoltz). A new series, Leap Years, will also premiere, focusing on the lives of a multi-ethnic group of five New Yorkers.
TBS has two original movies on the docket this year: Robin Cook's Acceptable Risk (starring Chad Lowe) in October and Invincible in November.
The Learning Channel
First up for TLC will be the four-part Legal Action, on July 2, a look at the criminal justice system in San Francisco. Later in July, another four-part series will be shown, Diana: Story of a Princess. August will bring The Human Face With John Cleese, while October will offer Hyperspace and Inventions We Love to Hate. In November, TLC will show Junkyard Mega-Wars, and, in December, Swat Showdown will make its debut.
The National Network will premiere its first two original series this summer: Small Shots and Lifegame. Other new series include Pop Across America, Robot Wars and Ultimate Revenge, the network's first steps toward having 50% original programming by 2005. Pilots in development include Conspiracy, 15 and Counting, Adventure Chef and Stinkin' Rich.
TNT's plans call for a number of original productions to join the mix this year. "TNT Originals" include Boss of Bosses ( June), The Mists of Avalon (July, starring Anjelica Houston, Joan Allen and Julianna Margulies), James Dean (August), Call Me Claus (December, starring Whoopi Goldberg) and Pretender: Island of the Haunted (December, tied into weekly first-run cable airings of The Pretender).
A number of original scripted series dot the USA lineup. John Woo's Red Skies and action dramas Wilder, Daylight Robbery and Kung Pow top the list. There are also unscripted shows set for showing, including Combat Missions and Break In.
As always, original movies will be part of the USA slate, with up to 12 in the works. Among the movies are Trapped (starring Meat Loaf and Parker Stevenson), Beer Money, Class Warfare, Hitched, Another Day (starring Shannen Doherty), Diamond of Jeru and Redeemer (starring Matthew Modine).
VH1 is offering a slate of new programming this summer (fall series and specials are to be determined, but VH1's My Music Awards and the VH1 Fashion Awards will be back). New series include Cover War (hosted by Paul Shaffer), the weekly countdown show What's My 20? and a dramatic anthology series called Strange Frequency. A five-part documentary series From the Waist Down: Men, Women & Music will also look to keep viewers shaking. Rock Across America, a cross-country journey to top summer festivals across the country, also will be a viewing option.
The original movies are Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story (starring Anthony Michael Hall) and romantic drama When the Music Stops.
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