E!, Style Heat Up Summer Schedules


E! Entertainment Television and sister Style Network have mined such current genres as reality, dating and makeover shows to develop 19 new potential series, which should hit the networks this July and August.

At E! Networks’ upfront presentation to advertisers here May 10, executives said the slate of originals was the most aggressive in the programmer’s history.

The new E! shows are meant to broaden the service’s focus beyond celebrity news and features, into lifestyle topics. The goal for Style is to become less of a “fashionista” destination and more reflective of the mainstream.

Senior vice president of programming and development Lisa Berger, who signed on in November, is developing the new offerings. Her résumé includes four years as executive vice president for Fox Television Studios Production and a dozen years at MTV Networks, where as senior vice president of original programming and series development she was responsible for Road Rules and Singled Out, among others.

Not all the shows will become series, though. For instance, E! will add six series, with the rest of the development slate morphing into specials.

Though E! continues to hit its target demo of adults 18 to 49, its median age has been “creeping up,” said E! Networks president and CEO Mindy Herman. Therefore, the new fare is designed to attract younger, affluent viewers.

E! will retain such tentpole programming as E! News Live and E! True Hollywood Story.

Among the reality shows headed for series slots: Scream Play, the network’s version of Fear Factor. Its contestants will try to replicate stunts from favorite classic films, such as downing a glass full of raw eggs, a la Rocky, or taking a slide down a wire, as in Back to the Future. The celebrity network will let its fans get creative in Challenge Reality, a Project Greenlight-like program in which a potential producer is picked to develop his or her own reality series concept.

Taking a page from the success of VH1’s Best Week Ever, E! will debut What the … ? Awards. During the half-hour, hosts will hand out “awards” to the week’s most impactful celebrities.

E!’s take on TV dating shows includes Trophy Wife, in which young women woo a “super rich-entertainment mogul.” It’s now being cast.

The Actress will feature 14 women cast into the roles they will play in order to seduce an unsuspecting beau. The winner’s pay-off is a role in a Lions Gate Films production.

On Style, the new slate includes Uptown Salon, which observes the inhabitants of beauty parlors in Manhattan and The Bronx; and The Hotspot, tracking the $15 million renovation of the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Other reality shows include Work It Out!, which sounds like a real-life version of the 1980s movie Perfect, in which an entertainment journalist followed the lives of gym habitués. Destination Unknown will pit couples against each other in “relationship contests” for the chance to win the ultimate honeymoon giveaway.

But Style hasn’t completely given up on its “fashionista” focus. One new offering, Extreme Shopping, will follow the super-rich on shopping sprees.

E! expects its programming budget to remain the same as in prior years, executives said, but Style has doubled its new-programming outlay.