Reflecting the diversity of genres proffered by the cable industry, presentations from various networks at the Television Critics Association winter press tour held here last week shone a light on an array of new series launches, original films, specials and miniseries, as well as acquisitions.
As expected, Bravo announced that it has picked up the Home Box Office series Project Greenlight. The premium-TV leader late last year decided not to pick up a third season of the Matt Damon/Ben Affleck-produced series, which took a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a B-movie.
Instead, Bravo will relaunch the series sometime in the late summer or early fall with a focus on creating a movie within the thriller/horror genre, senior vice president of programming and production Frances Berwick said during the net's presentation last Wednesday.
Bravo also announced the acquisition of the Fox series Keen Eddie. Bravo will air 13 one-hour episodes of the drama about a troubled New York City cop who goes to work for Scotland Yard in London.
On the original series front, Bravo is teaming with producer Ben Silverman (The Restaurant) to create a new reality series around a beauty salon. Blow Out
will follow the exploits of renowned hairstylist Jonathan Antin on his quest to establish a new salon in Beverly Hills.
Also on tap for the arts channel is Significant Others, an improvisational comedy treading on couples in and out of marriage counseling. The six-episode series is set to debut March 9.
Another relationship reality series scheduled for 2004 is Things I Hate About You— based on the British series Five Things I Hate About You— which lets living partners secretly videotape their companion's annoying habits.
The network also renewed its hit series Celebrity Poker Showdown
for a second season, with new episodes this summer.
Poker was also on the table for Travel Channel executives as they talked up the second season launch of World Poker Tour
this spring. The network will also debut a three-part series in March on the meaning of beauty in Eye of the Beholder.
Animal Planet will put world-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall front and center in two original specials during the first half of 2004.
The network will chronicle Goodall's return to Africa and the Gombe Stream National Park, where she began her studies nearly 40 years ago, as part of a one-hour special airing March 8. She will then examine the current status of the world's great apes in a two-hour special slated for June 14.
Discovery Channel will pit animals against each other in the simulated series Animal Face-Off, beginning March 21. The series features animatronic replicas of animals in an effort to simulate what would happen if certain animals were to battle each other in the wild, said network officials.
The two networks will also team on a simulcast of the three-hour AKC/Eukanuba National Championship dog show Jan. 31.
TLC put reality show Now Who's The Boss
before the nation's pundits. The show will center on some of America's leading corporate executives switching places with front-line employees.
Hallmark Channel extolled a number of upcoming original films, including Just Desserts, a romantic comedy starring Lauren Holly and Costas Mandylor. The film bows Feb. 8 and also includes an appearance by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck.
On March 7, Hallmark will premiere A Place Called Home, in which a reclusive widow portrayed by Ann-Margret takes in a drifter and his precocious daughter.
Executive vice president of programming David Kenin also said the network has retained some of TV's most imaginative and prolific writer/producers to create original movies for its "Mystery Sunday" programming block. Among those who will produce two-hour films: Dean Hargrove (Columbo
and Perry Mason telefilms) and Michael Gleason (McCloud and Remington Steele).
OLN IN HD
Outdoor Life Network will roll down the HDTV highway for the first time with a documentary series revolving around Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong.
The 13-part series, to debut April 29, will chronicle Armstrong and the U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling Team from training for the 2004 tour and finishing in July with the end of the tour, OLN CEO Roger Williams said. He added the network is talking to In Demand about airings on HD event channels.
Trio is also going the documentary route with a 30-minute film chronicling South Park
creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone's controversial Internet-based series as part of its month-long "uncovered" programming stunt in March.
The Shocked documentary features several episodes from Princess, a series of never-before-seen adult-oriented shorts created by Parker and Stone in the late 1990s for the then-Shockwave.com Web site, according to Trio president Lauren Zalaznick.