Bravo Looks Beyond Queer Eye


Seeking to stand out from other network schedules filled with reality shows, Bravo is developing six new weekly unscripted series that aim to feature entertaining and memorable personalities.

The new shows include: hour-long Surprise, which sends New York-caterer Laurence Craig to plan surprise parties for unorthodox occasions, such as a divorce; hour-long Dishing, which dissects the week’s entertainment headlines in a multiple-host humorous talk show; and half-hour This Evening With These People, which satirizes nightly news programs by reporting on the daily activities of American families in mock newscasts.

“We have a very cohesive thread that runs between our really big successful shows: they’re driven by personalities,” says Senior VP for Programming and Production Frances Berwick.

Bravo revamped its on-air look and took on the tagline “watch what happens” in January 2005 and has received criticism from industry executives for relying on hit franchises such as Queer Eye for branding, rather than first determining a network-wide brand and building programs around it. Queer Eyefor the Straight Guy became a hit when it premiered in 2003, but a spin-off did not fare as well earlier this year.

“Once you start chasing ratings, your programming is going to be all over the lot,” one ad buyer told B&C for a recent article on network branding. “If programming success dictates your brand, you'll have to keep changing your brand.”

The new series, five hour-long programs and one half-hour program, are being developed as Bravo this week brings back new seasons of the shows that have brought its biggest gains over the past few years: Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Project Runway.

Says Bravo’s Berwick: “[Our tagline] is very clear and it sums up what we do – we are surprising and unexpected.”

Bravo’s audience dipped nearly 20% year-to-year over the summer, but the network was up 22% year-to-year in November, averaging 507,000 total viewers in prime time.