'Class of ’05’ Get Their Due

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In an effort to appeal to younger viewers, The Biography Channel is teaming up with US Weekly magazine to create a new special on the top entertainment personalities of tomorrow.

The special, Class of ’05: Stars on the Verge— set to debut June 27 — will feature an hour-long look at personalities on the brink of graduating to greatness, according to Biography Channel vice president of marketing John Hartinger.

Among the stars in the special: Hugh Dancy (King Arthur, Ella Enchanted); Chris Pratt (Everwood) and Arielle Kebble (Soul Plane, Gilmore Girls).

“We’re all fascinated by new talent and stars that break through,” Hartinger said. “We thought we could add something new to the coverage of entertainment figures by taking a look ahead and making some guesses as to who would have a breakout year.”

US Weekly editors collaborated with Biography Channel to help the network create the list, develop the special and gain access to some of the stars profiled. The entertainment-based magazine will also run an ad touting Class of ’05 as part of the emerging talent editorial section in its June 28 issue, which hits the stands several days before the special.

Hartinger believes the special will draw more teen and young adult viewers to the 30 million-subscriber network, aimed primarily at adults 25 to 54.

“This is part of how you build a brand — you reach out to a new audience with something that interests them that still fits the network’s core mission,” he said. “This helps to broaden our overall appeal and give us a point of entry for a younger audience.”

In keeping with the “Class Of” theme, Biography Channel will launch a separate weekly series beginning June 22 in which the network will air two to three archival Biography installments centered on stars who delivered breakout performances during a particular year.

“We’re surrounding these biographies with a lot of pop-culture interstitial references, like a list of one-hit wonders, top movies and fashion mistakes [for a given year],” he said.

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