By Paige Albiniak -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/30/2004 8:00:00 PM
Hey, party people! Show us the loooove!" That's Kel Mitchell, host of Paramount's new strip, Dance 360, coming this fall to a Viacom station near you. Surrounded by hot, energetic partygoers draped in the latest club gear, dancers spin on their heads, throw back flips, and drop into splits. The music, loud and infectious, is spun by DJ K-Sly, a gorgeous Asian-American woman.
Paramount hopes the ingredients combine to make the only dance show in syndication and one of a handful on TV a hip destination for younger viewers. The company has completed 65 episodes, enough for 13 weeks of shows.
"It is supposed to feel like a party, with the music right out in front," says Kristin Peace, vice president of development at Paramount. "It's something for the Ricki Lake audience."
Fredro Starr and Mitchell (known to the show's key audience from Nickelodeon's Good Burger and Kenan & Kel) are Dance 360's heart and soul. Mitchell provides the good times and the energy, while Starr is cool and edgy. Together, they lead Dance 360's crowd through the elimination rounds until the day's best dancer is chosen, via audience applause. (To keep the momentum, the crowd chants loudly, "Three-Six-O" and "head-to-head.") Then the real fun begins. Everyone forms a dance circle and bursts into spontaneous solo performances before the show fades to black.
Peace, who says she was "fixated on doing a dance show," pitched the concept to Viacom group heads Dennis Swanson and Fred Reynolds with nothing more than a tape reel showing kids dancing.
"They got it from the first minutes I presented it to them," she says. Then she called Claude Brooks, a colleague from her days at 20th Century Fox Television's Foxlabs. Brooks and his partner, Ralph Farquhar, understand the urban audience. This fall, they are doing an African-American sitcom, Second Time Around, for UPN.
Dance 360 premieres this fall in limited rollout, the first time Paramount has done such a test run. If it clicks, the show could go national as early as next summer. That's the kind of love Paramount wants to feel.
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