Nick, Bravo Step Up Original Productions


An unstable ad market hasn't deterred Nickelodeon or Bravo from rolling out aggressive slates of original series and specials.

At its upfront presentation here last week, Nick announced five new animated series for the 2002-03 season, highlighted by a Rugrats
spinoff that features two of its female characters and the series debut of a popular Nickelodeon movie.

For its part, Bravo unveiled five original series on its fall schedule at a press luncheon here. It also said it acquired episodes of the off-Home Box Office series The Larry Sanders Show.

Nickelodeon has commissioned 13 episodes of Angelica and Susie's School Daze, an offshoot of Rugrats
featuring animated characters Angelica Pickles and Susie Carmichael, executive vice president and general manager Cyma Zarghami said.

School Daze
was one of three Rugrats
spinoffs explored by Nickelodeon. Also considered was a series based on Rugrats All Growed Up, a special from last summer.

Other new shows set to premiere in the fall are The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, based on the Nick film of the same name; Danny Phantom, tracking a kid superhero; My Neighbor Is a Teenage Robot, a derivative of Nick's Oh Yeah! Cartoons; and Max and Ruby, slated for the network's 'Nick Jr.' preschool block.

Also new to the schedule is the off-broadcast-network ABC series Clueless,
set to premiere this fall.

And Nick will debut a kids-friendly version of sister network TNN: The National Network's Robot Wars
as part of its "Nickelodeon Slam," a revamped Sunday-afternoon programming block aimed at boys.

On its Saturday-morning kids' block on CBS, Nick will replace several preschool shows with older-skewing series such as As Told by Ginger
and The Wild Thornberrys, to attract more six-to-11-year-olds.

"We're responding to the changes in the Saturday-morning landscape and broadening our programming range with a combination of shows that register with kids across all age groups," Zarghami said.

Bravo will start stripping episodes of The Larry Sanders Show
— a backstage look at late-night TV that ran on HBO from 1992 through 1998 — as part of its new 2002-03 programming lineup, which will also include five new original series.

Bravo acquired more than 91 episodes of the satirical comedy, which it will strip at 10 p.m. next fall, according to Bravo officials.

The network will keep HBO's more adult version of the show intact, sans very explicit language, said Bravo executive vice president and general manager Ed Carroll.

The film-and-arts network's new series set for fall include: Second City Presents, a talk show with a comedic bent; Gay Weddings, which follows four gay and lesbian couples planning marriage; Based on the Book, which shows how novels are adapted for the big screen; Cirque Du Soleil: A Fly on the Wall, a behind-the-scenes look at the international road show; and Art Crimes and Mysteries, which details the most infamous art thefts.

The expanded lineup is the result of a 30 percent increase in the network's original-programming budget, said senior vice president of programming Frances Berwick, who would not reveal specific figures.

As for Bravo's upfront prospects, senior vice president of ad sales Hannah Gryncwajg was encouraged by recent meetings held with key studios and automakers in Los Angeles.

"There was a lot of interest," she said. "The upfront process has already started for us."

But Bravo has not yet inked any upfront deals, she noted.

Gryncwajg was also buoyed by improving conditions in the first-quarter scatter marketplace. Bravo has registered ad-revenue increases and a strengthening of CPMs (cost per thousand homes) into the positive range, compared with last year.