IFC Takes on Scripted Series

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Independent Film Channel will test the scripted-series waters this August, when it launches a trio of shows. Known mostly for its art films and documentaries, the network will roll out the shows as the linchpin of its “Summer of IFC” promotional campaign, said IFC vice president of original series and events Debbie DeMontreaux.

The series center on independent film. The half-hour animated Hopeless Pictures is about a failing Hollywood indie studio, while The Festival is an ensemble comedy told from the perspective of a fictional IFC documentarian.

Greg the Bunny, featuring the eponymous puppet, follows the exploits of two ex-sitcom stars who return to their IFC roots. The show’s characters initially appeared on public access before migrating to IFC as interstitial material. Greg was a full-length series on Fox in 2002.

Together, the three series will comprise an hourlong block on Friday nights, beginning in August.

“IFC is a movie network and our viewers come to us for stories. We felt our viewers were ready for us to try something new and expand the brand,” said DeMontreaux, who will oversee the network’s scripted efforts and plans to launch another series early in 2006.

The shows will hopefully expand the brand, draw in new viewers and help IFC stand out among the litany of movie networks, she added.

“Any network can acquire films,” DeMontreaux said. “But for us to create our own programming just makes IFC a broader entertainment brand than what we’ve been known for.

“It brings a great value and gives us an opportunity to not only speak to our viewers that we have, but to bring in new viewers who would be interested in this kind of programming that wouldn’t normally sample IFC.”

To make room for the new scripted shows, a number of the reality shows that IFC introduced last year, such as Film School, Rocked With Gina Gershon and competition series Ultimate Film Fanatic, have been put on the shelf.

“We’re on hiatus with regard to nonfiction documentary programming, but my hope is that we get to a place where both of those genres can live on IFC,” DeMontreaux said. “Right now, we’re taking baby steps and focusing on one particular genre at a time.”

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