Drama isn't out of favor at A&E, it's just on hiatus. Until recently, the cable net hoped to have three original dramas on the air by fall. Now, with 100 Centre Street
burning off and a second series out of the picture, only period detective series Nero Wolfe
According to A&E Senior Vice President of Programming Allen Sabinson, documentaries and original movies and miniseries are plenty to fuel the network. "Will we back away from drama?" he asked. "No. Are economic conditions favorable? No."
A&E is still trying to get mileage out of its Biography
franchise. Spinoff series TV-Ography,
launching June 3, delves into the stories behind TV shows and stars. It is part of A&E's upcoming programming slate, which also includes tributes and stunts for Biography's 15th anniversary and 1,000th episode. On Friday nights, starting later this year, A&E will stage Bio in a Movie,
airing a classic movie interspersed with Biography
segments. Two more Biography
cousins, Bio in a Year
and Street Scenes, pop up as specials.
A&E is looking to jump-start its ratings after several flat months. Viewing levels are up slightly for May but remain around 1.1.
Sunday nights have been retooled and now feature Nero Wolfe
(which is averaging a 1.7 rating this season), City Confidential,
and, through the summer, Law & Order. But TNT takes over exclusive rights to Law & Order
come September, when A&E will debut off-nets of Third Watch
in its place.
A&E's documentary lineup is highlighted by Old Friends, produced by Julia Roberts, which traces the lives of and lifelong connections among three women. A documentary series from director Michael Apted, Married in America
, which debuts in June. Apted plans to revisit the subjects of his documentary, newlywed couples, every year to update the story.
A&E is launching documentary Cold Case Files
as a weekly series and bringing back Minute by Minute.
Sabison said he's developing three more documentary series but would not elaborate. Also on the schedule are five originals, including four-hour miniseries The Lost World
and six-hour series Napoleon.
Sister net The History Channel is rolling out five new series including Basic Training, Secret Passages
and Secrets of the Ancient World. Among History specials will be TR and the Birth of a Superpower.