A&E Sets Original-Movie Slate


Beverly Hills, Calif. -- A&E Network will develop at least four original movies over the next two years as part of its original-programming slate announced Thursday at the Television Critics Association Tour here.

As part of its original-movie lineup, the network in the fourth quarter of 2005 will bow Knights of the South Bronx, starring Ted Danson (Cheers). The movie depicts the true story about a teacher’s struggle to better the lives of seven poor Bronx children by teaching them how to play chess.

Movies in development set to premiere over the next two years include Back in Action, depicting the life of Iraq War veteran David Rozelle; Live from New York, about the genesis of NBC late-night hit Saturday Night Live; and Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, about the true story behind the famed suspense writer and one of his most famous movies, according to A&E executive vice president and general manager Bob DiBitetto.

Along with movies, the network also announced two new reality series set to launch in July: Criss Angel: Mindfreak, featuring the exploits of the famed magician; and Inked, focusing on the people who frequent the Hart & Huntington Tattoo Co.

Other “real-life” series in development include God or the Girl, focusing on decisions by five men to become priests; Spying on Myself, in which people disguise themselves to find out what others say and think of them; Jackpot Diaries, which follows the lives of lottery winners; Dallas SWAT, which chronicles the exploits of special law-enforcement officers; Rollergirls, a one-hour documentary that takes a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of several roller-derby participants; and Random 1, a real-life series about young idealists who set out to help people in need.

In other A&E Television Networks TCA news, The History Channel said it will jump on the Rome-oriented programming bandwagon in September with its special, Rome: Engineering an Empire, which examines the civilization’s masterful use of engineering and labor used to build its cities and works of architecture. History’s efforts follow the launch of Rome-based projects from both Home Box Office and broadcast network ABC.

The 88 million-subscriber network will also bow in August Weird U.S., a quirky weekly series in which show hosts Mark Sceurman and Mark Moran scour the country in search of strange and bizarre history stories that get little attention from the mainstream press.

In July, History will premiere Shootout, a special that examines and re-creates some of the most famous gun battles in history.