Adding African-American Flavor

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TV One’s primetime lineup will feature a slew of lifestyle-oriented series during the 2004-05 season, including cooking, makeover and home-design fare.

Next month, TV One will bow G. Garvin, a culinary show featuring the former Ritz-Carlton and Morton’s executive chef; and Makeover Manor, the first transformation show focusing exclusively on beauty and style tips for African-Americans, said Lee Gaither, executive vice president of programming and production at the black-targeted network.

The network also plans a November premiere for Living With Soul (working title), a home-design show featuring Phyllis Bowie.

SETTING A TONE

Gaither said the lifestyle-leaning lineup will not only appeal to the network’s target demographic of 25-to-54-year-old African-American viewers, but will serve as differentiator from TV One’s category competitors — notably Black Entertainment Television, which appeals to a younger viewer through its music-video and entertainment programming.

“Over a certain age range, things like marriage, home improvement, religion and the balancing of family and work come into play,” Gaither said. “We wanted to initially identify the brand as doing something different than our primary competitors, while at the same time reflecting trends that we thought are working in the larger marketplace and would identify to our adult African-American audience exactly how we’re reflecting their lives.”

He also said the more cultural aspects of its new programming will separate the service from other lifestyle-oriented networks.

“Even though you can go to a Food Network or HGTV or TLC or any other networks and find these types of programs, very little of it is inclusive of African-Americans and none of it basically is seen through our prism,” Gaither said.

To further identify with African-Americans, Gaither also said TV One is looking to tape some of its new shows in cities with a large black population: Makeover Manor, for example, originates from Atlanta.

MEN NOT FORGOTTEN

Gaither said he isn’t concerned that the more female-targeted lifestyles programming will deter the other gender from tuning in the channel. He pointed to the acquisition of off-network shows as Boston Public and Martin, as well as other shows in production, that will help draw adult men.

“Even though TV traditionally views a lot of the lifestyle-branded programming as female-skewed, once you bring it under the cultural tent and create some authenticity, we’ve found in our research that men are willing to come to this programming, as long as they see themselves in it and have an emotional entry point,” he said.

Gaither said the network would develop scripted series and original movies down the road. “But we have to figure out what form it takes and what the right vehicle is.”

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