Two Viacom Inc. networks last week moved in opposite directions regarding their respective celebrity reality series.
After a lot of pre-premiere hype — and some false start dates — VH1 last Tuesday pulled the plug on Liza and David, after failing to gain the necessary access to the show's stars, Liza Minelli and husband David Gest.
Also, after much anticipation, MTV: Music Television announced it would commence the sophomore season of its popular series The Osbournes
on Nov. 26.
VH1 decided not to go ahead with its ambitious Liza and David
after tentatively scheduling its premiere for late December or early January. VH1 had actually taped the first episode of the series, tracking the husband-and-wife team's exploits and interactions with other celebrities during parties and dinners.
But VH1 officials said it was consistently difficult to get access to the couple to shoot the episodes, and finally decided to bag the concept once it became clear that it would not have the ability to get close enough.
"We weren't given the cooperation to make the show," VH1 spokeswoman Laura Nelson said.
The network did not spend any money marketing or promoting the show, which limited its financial losses, she added. Still, the show would have stirred up attention for the struggling music net.
Much like E! Entertainment Television's The Anna Nicole Show, which was recently renewed for a second season, Liza and David
would have no doubt drawn curious viewers, allowing the channel to promote its other offerings.
Access was not a problem for MTV in shooting the second season of The Osbournes. Executives hope to match or surpass the phenomenal success of the freshman season.
MTV will initially produce 10 episodes of the breakout series, and holds an option to add more if warranted, The Osbournes
executive producer R. Greg Johnston said.
"We try to let the footage dictate the quality and amount of episodes that we do," he added.
During the 10-episode first season — which followed the exploits and everyday life of the bat-biter and his brood
in their California residence, and tracked the heavy-metal rocker on the road —The Osbournes
averaged a 4.4 household rating.
The high point came during the eighth episode on April 23. The show scored a 6.0 household rating, attracting some 7.8 million viewers, Nielsen Media Research said.
Several family developments since the first season — including matriarch Sharon's fight with colon cancer — should mean that the show will perform well again, Johnston said.
MTV will promote the second season with a Nov. 4 special, Catching Up With the Osbournes, which will include the family's reaction to the success of the show, as well as a sneak peek at upcoming episodes.