Upfront Buys From the Bravo Guy
Gaspin touts Queer spinoff, reality shows with a twist
By Allison Romano -- Broadcasting & Cable, 4/11/2004 8:00:00 PM
Bravo's upcoming programming slate includes a Queer Eye for the Straight Guy spinoff and a celebrity bio show called Naked. Predictable, but often profitable. Bravo President Jeff Gaspin knows the first rule of programming: If an idea works, do it to death.
In the year since NBC took the Bravo reins, the channel's meteoric ratings, largely because of Queer Eye, are the envy of its cable peers. In the first quarter, its prime time audience climbed 75% compared with a year ago, to 510,000 viewers. And Queer Eye, last summer's water-cooler show, has turned into a mini-industry.
"If you weren't watching us or you weren't talking about us, you weren't tuned in," Gaspin said at Bravo's April 7 upfront party. "We are influencing pop culture, not just reflecting on it."
As expected, Gaspin gave the nod for Queer Eye for the Straight Girl, which will debut early next year with three new gay men as lifestyle experts. (Bravo will invite guests on to round out the "Fab Five.") There are fresh episodes of the original show, too. This summer, Queer Eye's talented troupe heads to Texas.
Gaspin, the former VH1 programming chief who created Behind the Music, is also remaking a successful formula. This round, it's the bio series Naked. In eight, hourlong episodes, a star's life story is told by mixing documentary and talk-show elements. Celebrities get to defend themselves before a live studio audience.
Other new shows will take viewers "inside the creative process," Gaspin promises. That includes Pilot Season, executive-produced by Will & Grace star Sean Hayes, a reality show tracing the creation of a sitcom. For its third season, Project Greenlight, the Miramax Television filmmaking reality show executive-produced by Matt Damon, Chris Moore, and Ben Affleck, is moving to Bravo from HBO. Project Runway, another Miramax show, will embark on a search for a new clothing designer.
Next season, Gaspin says, 50% of Bravo's schedule will be original programming. That stat supports his biggest claim: "We promised we wouldn't become a repurposing network for NBC."
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