Anaheim, Calif. -- MTV: Music Television took the wraps off
its 1999 development slate last week, green-lighting 25 projects for pilots and making
significant orders for renewals of existing shows.
The new pilots in the works -- which include scripted
series and music-based shows -- reflect the first fruits of MTV's new
music-development group, which is headed by Lois Curren, senior vice president of music
development, and John Miller, senior vice president of development.
Next year, MTV, under Miller's guidance, will expand
its efforts in the area of scripted series -- both comedies and dramas -- for its "10
Spot" programming block, according to Brian Graden, MTV's executive vice
president of programming.
In particular, Graden said, MTV is looking for scripted
shows that are "creator-driven," and that have strong voices behind them, like
Comedy Central's South Park. On the new slate, Graden cited as an example Walker
Family Album, which is based on Jason Hernandez Rosenblatt's short film about an
Some of the scripted series in development under
Miller's wing include: Her Majesty, in which a well-educated woman moves from
the East Coast to Los Angeles and finds work as an assistant to a tantrum-prone celebrity;
All the Young Dudes, a science-fiction look at what would happen if everyone over
30 disappeared; and Locust Valley, a "dramedy" from Dawson's
Creek producer Jon Harmon Feldman about a former city girl who finds terror in
As for music-driven shows, Graden said many ideas for those
primetime shows came "ad hoc" from staff last year.
"I felt the need to institutionalize that by creating
a music-development unit," he added. So in June, he put Curren in charge of that
unit, giving her a staff of six to 10 people and a budget. More than one-half of the
pilots in development have music-video-based concepts.
The music shows in development include: Hip Hop Nation,
a half-hour rap show; Dance Planet, which goes to hip clubs across the globe; and Web
Riot, an interactive, music-based game show.
In addition to setting forth its 1999 development slate,
MTV has also picked up 22 new episodes of Celebrity Death Match and 20 weeks of Loveline,
Graden said. In fact, MTV will be picking up 14 or 15 of the 17 series that it premiered
last year in 1999.
Graden actually expects the first show from the new slate
to debut in January, and it will be one of the shows coming out of the new
music-development unit. The first scripted show probably won't hit the air as a
series until June, according to Graden. That's because those shows are not only
riskier, but they take longer to turn around, he added.
MTV has seen four quarters of total-day double-digit
ratings growth, reflecting some of the new shows that Graden brought on-air.
Referring to Miller's shows, Graden said, "I want
a breakout hit."