Vowing to be a top-five cable network in the 25-54 and 18-49 demo by the end of next year, A&E Network is developing four new nonfiction original series and five new movies for the 2005-06 season.
The network will pitch its new offerings and tout its existing programming mix to media buyers at its New York upfront ad presentation tomorrow at Rockefeller Center.
Coming off a strong first quarter--averaging 1.17 million total viewers in prime--the network hopes to continue its success with younger-skewing originals like Dog the Bounty Hunter and Growing Up Gotti, and banking on the success of 2005-premiering Inked, Criss Angel Mindfreak, and Roller Girls, the network is developing:
*Spying on Myself, from Scott Sternberg Productions, gives participants acting training, CIA-agent coaching and disguise advice, then sends them into the world to see what their friends and family really think of them.
*Random 1 (Working title), from Random 1 Productions, sends out a team of producers in a high-tech RV to offer help to unsuspecting strangers.
*Single Again, from True Entertainment and Endemol, separates real life couples who live together to see if a month of single living changes that arrangement.
*Little Red Man, from Granada, sends an emissary to people who have done wrong to remind them of their sins at the most ill-timed moments.
A&E is aiming for lots of buzz for its movies. In addition to the already-reported Young Knights, a true story about an English teacher from the South Bronx starring Ted Danson, the network is developing:
*Johnny Cash, from Sofronski Productions in association with The Konigsberg Company, chronicles the singer’s addiction-filled early years and his relationship with wife June Carter Cash. Bernard Sofronski and Frank Konigsberg will executive produce and Allison Anders (Things Behind the Sun; Sex and the City; Grace of My Heart) will direct.
*Flight 93, from Fox Television Studios & The Gerber Company, will tell the story, in real time a la 24, of passengers on board a terrorist-hijacked 9/11 flight. David Gerber will executive produce.
*Blackout, a mini-series from Paul Lussier and Sony Pictures Television, takes inspiration from the New York blackout to ask what would happen if the country’s entire power grid failed. Based on writings of Wall Street Journal reporter Jason Leopold, the film will be executive produced by Paul Lussier.
*Touch the Top of the World, from Jaffe-Bronstein Films, tells a true man vs. nature story of world class mountain climber Erik Weihenmayer, blind since age 13 from a degenerative eye disorder, who scaled the country’s seven highest peaks. Based on Weihenmayer’s memoir, the film will be executive produced by Howard Bronstein and Michael Jaffe.
In addition to new originals, off-network shows 24 and CSI Miami bow this season and The Sopranos, for which the network dropped a record $2.5 million per episode, debuts in 2006.