An Original Sampler
Cable is learning to make its own
By BroadCasting & Cable Staff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/8/2005 8:00:00 PM
Cable has seen success with its original series and is looking for more. Most networks have new shows rolling out this summer and promise even bigger things to come in development for 2006. Here's a look at what's in the works.
After lowering its median viewing age with a slew of unscripted originals (Dog the Bounty Hunter, Growing Up Gotti, etc.), the network continues its focus on unscripted for now but hopes to air a scripted drama of its own by 2007. The next new originals to bow: 12 hour-long episodes of Inked (Fox TV Studios/Foglight Entertainment) and 16 half-hour episodes of Criss Angel Mindfreak (Angel Productions Inc./The Firm), about the illusionist, are slated for July. Roller Girls (Go Go Luckey Productions), 13 hour-long episodes about the Texas derby sport, is due in January.
Coming Up: Development includes Random 1, a 10-episode hour-long reality series in which a SWAT team in a high-tech RV ambushes strangers and solves their problems, and Spying on Myself, six half-hour episodes in which participants get CIA-agent coaching and disguise advice, then go undercover to see what their friends and family really think of them.
Since Paul Lee took the reins 10 months ago, ABC Family has improved viewership with its off-nets. Lee is now investing in originals, beginning with June's 13-episode Wildfire (Lions Gate Television/ The Segan Co./Piller2), an hour-long drama starring newcomer Genevieve Cortese as an 18-year-old released from a detention center to live with a ranch family. August's eight-episode of hour-long Beautiful People (Sony Pictures Television) stars Daphne Zuniga as the mother of two daughters who move from New Mexico to New York. Six episodes of Venus and Serena: For Real, about the Williams sisters' lives, debuts in July.
Coming Up: ABC Family has eight half-hour episodes of reality show Stuck With U (Endemol USA), about four university students and a parent who moves into their house. Coming soon are six half-hour episodes of Looks of Love, about a hair salon. In development is reality show Kicked Out about twentysomething freeloaders who live with their parents.
Bravo President Lauren Zalaznick generated buzz and ratings with Project Runway and other reality shows. The pop-culture/arts-and-entertainment network is continuing development of reality featuring celebs, contests and quirky characters.
Runway got a second-season nod, and new installments of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Blow Out, plus a new twist on the Moms and Dads franchise (this one on parents who dote on their athletic kids), bow in June.
Also on the slate (25% bigger than last year) are June's eight half-hour episodes of Being Bobby Brown, a documentary-style show on the troubled pop star and his family; July's six hour-long episodes of Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List; and August's 10 episodes of Situation: Comedy, a contest between two teams trying to create the next hit sitcom; six episodes of half-hour scripted/reality mix Hidden Howie: The Private Life of a Public Nuisance, on comedian Howie Mandel; and the reincarnation of a '70s obstacle-race show, updated as Battle of the Network Reality Stars.
Coming Up: The network has a record 30 series and specials in development or production over the next 18 months. First quarter 2006 brings six hour-long episodes of The Real Housewives on Orange County, Calif., women; and 10 hour-long episodes of Top Chef, an elimination-based competition. Second quarter brings six hour-long episodes of The Daily News (Hearst Entertainment), a reality series about the New York tabloid.
Comedy's hoping to capitalize on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart to spring other late-night winners with new shows from Stephen Colbert and Adam Carolla. Bowing this fall, one or the other (but likely Colbert) will get the Daily lead-in. A third late-night show, Weekends at the DL, will take the 11 p.m. slot, Friday through Sunday, starting July 29. Several pilots are in production for fourth quarter. Reno 911 is back by June, and the network will premiere live-action Stella on June 29 and Mind of Mencia July 7. The future of Chappelle's Show, having halted production last week, is in doubt.
Originals will range from serious to fun, promises COO Art Bell, with an effort to stress the entertainment value of it all. To that end, popular half-hour Trace Evidence: The Case Files of Dr. Henry Lee returns for a second season in June. New shows this summer include June's 11 episodes of Casino Takedown, a half-hour reality show in which con men go undercover to test security, and July's six episodes of The Smoking Gun, a series in which documents from the Court TV-owned Web site are re-created by bobble-head dolls and cartoons. In August come 13 episodes of Parco, PI, a half-hour comedy/reality hybrid in which a dysfunctional family of New York-based sleuths re-create zany cases.
Coming Up: This fall, in High Stakes With Ben Mezrich, the author exposes the dark lives of the young, rich and famous.
Summer debuts include Discovery's four-episode countdown Greatest American (from NBC Enterprises/NBC News Productions) and 13 episodes of hour-long Firehouse USA: Boston in June, 13 episodes of Animal Planet's hour-long Buggin' With Ruud and 13 episodes of hour-long Corwin's Quest in June, TLC's six-episode hour-long Miami Ink in July, and Travel Channel's 18-episode half-hour Stranded—With Cash Peters and 13-episode one-hour Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations in July.
Coming Up: Nine episodes of Discovery's Pop Nation: America's Coolest Stuff start in October; this fall, TLC debuts the 13-episode Adam Carolla Project (working title) and eight-episode hour-long Going Hollywood.
Nip/Tuck begins its third season in late summer/early fall. FX, now cable's poster child for original-series success, will branch into comedy in June with six one-hour episodes of 30 Days, a reality show from Morgan Spurlock (of Supersize Me), and two seven-episode half-hour comedies: August's half-hour Starved, about three guys and a girl with eating disorders from Eric Shaeffer, and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, about friends who own a bar. The highly anticipated Over There, a Steven Bochco/Chris Gerolmo drama about a US army unit that goes to Iraq on its first tour of duty, bows in July with 13 hour-long episodes.
Coming Up: In development is Thief, in which Andre Braugher stars as the leader of a robbery crew.
With its most ambitious development slate in 21 years, Lifetime promises a 33% increase of originals for 2005 and 2006, including its first limited series and miniseries, along with three new comedies and dramas on everything from a family of spies to a trio of overweight sisters. Original dramas Missing and Strong Medicine return next month, bolstered by 13 episodes of half-hour reality show You're Not the Man I Married. Six-hour limited edition Beach Girls, a gal-pal story based on the Luanne Rice novel, bows July 25.
Coming Up: Furthest along among the comedies is Tripping the Prom Queen, about how nasty competitive women can get. On the drama front is Scarlett, a series about a New Orleans-based Gothic-horror novelist whose characters bleed into her life. Also, there's Gravity (Lions Gate Television), a limited series about astronauts stranded on a space station.
The network has greenlighted 14 series to debut this summer and fall. Recent hit My Super Sweet 16 will return for a second season in late summer, accompanied by new seasons of Pimp My Ride, Punk'd and Laguna Beach and the 16th season of perennial favorite Real World, this time in Austin, Texas.
Summer's new series include an addition to the successful Sunday Stew block: June's 10-episode half-hour The Andy Milonakis Show, a comedy in which the former Jimmy Kimmel Live regular makes surreal short films while trapped in his New York apartment. Also new for summer are half-hour sketch-comedy improv series Wild 'n Out hosted by Nick Cannon; and half-hour MTV's The '70s House, which sticks modern teens in a 1970s house to see if they survive.
Coming Up: For fall, look for 20 half-hour episodes of performance/dating hybrid Score, pitting musicians against each other to fight for a date, and 10 episodes of Project Seventeen, a contest with Seventeen magazine to find America's next sweetheart. Also coming is a Newlyweds spinoff starring Nick Lachey.
Seven scripted series and three alternative/reality series are in development for 2006. July marks the return of ratings-earners Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, in addition to second seasons of Ghost Hunters and Tripping the Rift, with new cast member Carmen Electra. July's new original is 10 episodes of hour-long reality show Master Blasters, in which rocket scientists shoot weird things into space.
Furthest along in production are Eureka (NBC Universal Television Studio), starring Colin Ferguson as a US marshal stranded in a Pacific Northwest think tank, and Painkiller Jane (also from Sci Fi parent NBC Universal), about a kick-butt sexy superhero, starring Emmanuelle Vaugier, Tate Donovan and Richard Roundtree.
Coming Up: A still-untitled project from Michael Douglas' production company will weave themes from author Shirley Jackson's supernatural short stories with the real-life experiences recounted in her non-fiction books. Live-action series Heroes Anonymous (NBC Universal Television Studio/Bender-Brown Prods.), is based on comic books created by Scott Gimpel and Bill Morrison. Those Who Walk in Darkness (NBC Universal Television Studio), a near-future drama, is based on John Ridley's novel about a SWAT team hunting down “metanormals” with superpowers. Barbarian Chronicles is an animated comedy about mid-earth metrosexuals.
This summer, TNT will bow its first original series since Witchblade ended in 2002: 13 episodes of hour-long The Closer (The Shephard/Robin Co./Warner Bros. Television), starring Kyra Sedgwick, and the six-week Steven Spielberg limited series Into the West in June; 13 episodes of hour-long Wanted (Spelling Television/Jorge Zamacona) starring Gary Cole, begins in July.
“Very funny” TBS brings back The Real Gilligan's Island for a four-night second season in June. July will offer 10 episodes of half-hour Minding the Store, a reality show about Pauly Shore's effort to resuscitate his mother's comedy club. Later, look for nine episodes of half-hour Daisy Does America (Courteney Cox/David Arquette's Coquette Productions), a spoof starring newcomer and UK import Daisy Donovan.
Coming Up: TNT, besides limited series Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King, has a pilot of The Dark (Stephen J. Cannell/Warner Bros. Television), based on a real FBI team that probes serial criminals. In development: Confessions (Paul Haggis for Sony Pictures Television), about a hit man who develops a conscience; Smoke & Mirrors (Nip/Tuck's Greer Shephard and Michael Robin for Warner Bros. Television), inside the ad biz; and Talk to Me (Dean Devlin and Lion's Gate), about hostage negotiators. TBS will shoot a pilot for Sketch Off (working title) from Whoopi Goldbergs One Ho Productions, a nationwide search for the best sketch-comedy troupe. And it has a first-look development deal with Bird and a Bear, the production company behind Cedric the Entertainer and partner Eric Rhone.
The network will announce its rebranding effort this summer. Look for a focus on originals in the vein of Monk, Dead Zone and The 4400—entertaining, without dark overtones. Those shows return July 8, June 12 and June 5. Also coming are six hour-long episodes of Made in the USA, a competition for inventors.
Coming Up: Topping a soon-to-be finalized development slate are six-hour limited series Organized Medicine, based on real-life tales of organized crime in medicine, and Before the Fact, a drama on a real police force that hunts down criminals before they strike again.
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