MTV Accelerates Series Rollouts for Spring


Four new series and the June return of The Osbournes
are on tap for MTV: Music Television's new spring and summer programming lineup, announced last week.

The new shows — which include a rare variety series — are part of an aggressive slate of original fare that is adding several new shows a month to the MTV schedule, said MTV and VH1 president of entertainment Brian Graden.

Among the new shows set to bow soon is Punk'd
(March 17), a sketch comedy show in which actor Ashton Kutcher plays practical jokes on his celebrity friends. On tap in June, MTV will premiere a variety series featuring hip-hop star Snoop Dogg titled Doggy Fizzle Televizzle,
an extension of a pilot that ran last November.

Graden said the addition of such personalities as Kutcher and Snoop Dogg is part of the network's effort to reach its core 12-to-34 audience via celebrity-driven vehicles.

"We've been trying to make a statement that if you are a major talent and you have some long-form television aspirations, this is the place to do it," Graden said. "Last year, we had The Osbournes, P Diddy in Making the Band
and Brandy having a baby — these were all talents that had the ability to do other kinds of television."

Reality fare will continue to be prominent on the network. Slated for May: TRL Presents: Duets ,
in which an ordinary person will get the opportunity to record a duet album with a music superstar or group; and Surf Girls, a half-hour series that follows 15 contestants as they travel around the world and train for a chance to compete for a professional sponsorship deal.

Unlike the current strain of competition-based reality shows on the broadcast networks, MTV's shows focus more on real-life situations, said Graden.

"We're trying to go with reality formats that are natural and honest drama about young people, as opposed to more spectacular or contest-driven vehicles that are proliferating in primetime," Graden said.

Along with the new shows, the network also announced the return of several signature series, including the June premiere of the hit skein The Osbournes
. Graden said he would be "elated" if the second half of the show's 20-episode sophomore season could match the ratings posted by the first 10 shows.

Those plays, which premiered Tuesday nights between Nov. 26 to Feb. 11, averaged a 3.6 household rating — down 18 percent from the first season's 4.4 figure — though Graden said the show's numbers in the 12-to-34 demographic were off only marginally.

Other debuts include Road Rules XII: South Pacific
(premiering May 26); Real World Paris
(June 3); Making the Band II
(June 18); Cribs
(July); Made
(June); and True Life

Graden said the new shows and new-season premieres put the network on pace to debut fresh series programming almost every two weeks, beginning in May and running through much of the summer.