MTV's new fall schedule comes up with yet another low-budget twist to reality, and really, twisting reality is getting to be television's most competitive game these days.
Mall Confessions, among five new series selected for fall and early 2001, takes the candid-cam into shopping centers around the country in a mobile confessional booth. Confessions begin spilling Oct. 16 at 11 p.m. Guess Who's Coming To Dinner is a Candid Camera-Real World-FANatic mixture, where hidden cameras catch the reactions when someone's dinner-party date turns out to be a celebrity of the MTV type. It debuts in the first quarter 2001.
Stepping into documentary-style reality, MTV follows the contorted antics of skateboarders in Jackass, coming Oct. 1 at 9 p.m.
From there, MTV departs from reality with a soap opera, which is what the network wanted to create several years ago, but found too expensive and launched the reality craze with Real World instead. Spydergames borrows from Agatha Christie, ferreting out potential killers following the death of the richest and most hated man in town, beginning Oct. 16 at 4:30 p.m. and repeating at 11 p.m. Series No. 5 is The Sausage Factory, more nonreality, with four innocent-looking teenagers getting into "lurid trouble," as MTV puts it, starting first quarter 2001.
Mixing up all the genres teens and other television viewers apparently love-game shows, reality and abject terror-MTV will ensconce six people in a haunted house and proceed to scare the bejesus out of them in Fear, a special scheduled to air Sept. 14.
MTV will spend more than $200 million on programming this year, nearly twice the average expenditure of the 60 largest cable networks, according to estimates by Paul Kagan and Associates.
In addition to the series, 10 more shows are in various stages of development, with formats ranging from an action-comedy to schlock horror to drama:
- Shotgun Love Dolls is an action-comedy adventure set in the '70s.
- This Is How The World Ends is described by MTV as "Dawson's Creek on acid."
- My Life as a Movie reinterprets viewers' lives as minimovies.
- The Andy Dick Show features the bent comic of the same name.
- Robot Wars features battling robots from the BBC.
- Teen Court is Judge Judy junior.
- Wet Suit follows a group of kids growing up in a surfing town.
- Chill-O-Rama resurrects the cheese-ball horror flicks of the '50s.
- Big Rock is a nighttime soap about the music industry, created by Fred Silverman, the only executive to lead CBS, NBC and ABC (not all at once, though).
- Finally, on the development slate for future use is Teenline, a "docu-series" about a teen crisis center.